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Diana Henry's baked sea bass with raisins, preserved lemon, ginger and coriander
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6-8 whole sea bass, scaled and gutted (about 2.2kg in total)
1 unwaxed lemon, finely sliced
Olive oil, to brush and drizzle
Lemon wedges, to serve
For the paste
20g piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated to a purée
2 cloves garlic, grated to a purée
1/4 tsp cayenne
Juice of ½ small lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
For the stuffing
125g butter, softened
40g ground almonds
75g raisins, soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes, then drained and patted dry
2 pieces stem ginger in syrup, drained and very finely chopped
2 preserved lemons, finely chopped (pips discarded)
1 clove garlic, grated to a purée
2 tbsp chopped coriander
1. Heat the oven to 220°C, gas mark 7. Mix the ingredients for the paste together. In a separate bowl mix the ingredients for the stuffing together. Wash the fish – this gets any blood out – and pat dry with kitchen paper.
2. Put a double layer of baking parchment into a large roasting tray or tin big enough to take the fish. Brush the parchment with olive oil.
3. Make 4 diagonal slashes on both sides of each fish, cutting down to the bone but not through it. Push the paste inside the slits on both sides. Carefully push the stuffing mixture inside the fish – push it up into the head to get all of it in (you’re not going to eat the head, but you will be able to get the stuffing out), then put the fish onto the oiled greaseproof paper. Lay the lemon slices on top, drizzle with olive oil and season.
4. Bake for 30 minutes, then check if it’s done – the flesh in the thickest part of the fish should be white and not glassy. If it needs a little longer, put it back in the oven. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over and a bowl of couscous – I like to toss some chopped pistachios through the couscous and add some lemon juice and zest to it.
This recipe was first published in January 2019.