zoom Sea bass with chilli and watercress

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    Sea bass with chilli and watercress

    Made with fresh aromatic flavours, this dish is a welcome change to more traditional festive food. Other white fish such as sea bream or small haddock fillets can be used instead of sea bass. Whatever you use, make sure you buy fillets from both sides of the fish so they can be sandwiched together.

    • Preparation time: 25 minutes
    • Cooking time: 20 minutes
    • Total time: 45 minutes 45 minutes

    Serves: 8


    125g lightly salted butter, plus extra to grease

    3 shallots, finely chopped

    2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

    1½ tsp fennel seeds, crushed

    65g breadcrumbs

    100g bag Waitrose Watercress, roughly chopped

    8 sea bass fillets, each weighing about 125g

    3 limes

    Extra lime wedges, to serve


    1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC, gas mark 6. Grease a roasting tin. Melt 50g of the butter in a large frying pan. Add the shallots and fry gently for 5 minutes until very soft. Stir in the chillies, fennel seeds and breadcrumbs and fry, stirring for a further 5 minutes until the breadcrumbs are beginning to brown. Stir in the watercress and a little salt, turning the watercress in the breadcrumbs until wilted.
    2. Score each fish fillet several times along the skin sides. Lay 4 fillets on a work surface skin-side down and stack the watercress mixture on top, packing it down firmly. Lay the remaining fillets skin-side up on top and tie a piece of string around each end to hold them in place. Cut each in half evenly. Season.
    3. Place in the roasting tin and bake for 20 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. Meanwhile, finely grate the  zest from 1 lime and put in a small pan with the juice of all 3 limes, the remaining 75g butter and a little seasoning. Heat gently until the butter has melted. See cook’s tip.
    4. Transfer the fish to warmed serving plates with the herb risotto and lime wedges. Drizzle the flavoured butter over the fish and risotto. Serve.

    Cook’s tip
    You can start cooking the herb risotto (recipe is here) as soon as the fish goes into the oven.

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