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Nathan Outlaw's bass with leeks and tartare hollandaise
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"Over the past few years, steaming has become my favourite way to cook certain fish, including fillets of bass. The technique shows off the amazing texture of this lovely fish and allows you to enjoy its natural flavours. Chefs sometimes overdo it with seasoning, herbs and butter, overpowering the delicate flavours of the fish. I like to keep it simple.
Hollandaise was one of the first sauces I learnt to make. I was intrigued by the technique and found it challenging when I was at college. It’s a relatively simple sauce but you do need to understand what is happening to the ingredients as you make it or you’ll mess it up – as I did the first time I made it. In that moment I began to appreciate that to cook great food you need to know the techniques. There have been many similar lessons over the years!
This hollandaise is slightly different from the traditional one. I use olive oil instead of butter, which I suppose makes it a bit healthier (but not much!) and flavour it, judiciously, with the ingredients of tartare sauce. Tender, young leeks are the perfect complement." - Nathan Outlaw
Serves: 4 as a main course
4 filleted bass portions, 160–180g each, scaled and pin-boned
Light olive oil to drizzle
Cornish sea salt
For the tartare hollandaise:
350ml olive oil
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons water
1 large gherkin, finely chopped
1 tablespoon capers in brine, drained and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped curly parsley
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
1 tablespoon chopped chervil
For the leeks:
12 young, tender leeks, trimmed and thoroughly cleaned
Chopped chives, chervil and parsley
Extra virgin olive oil
Set up a steamer or switch on your oven steamer if you have one.
Heat the olive oil in a pan over a low heat until warm, but not hot, then add the lemon zest and remove from the heat.
Place the egg yolks, water and lemon juice in a stainless steel bowl and set it over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the bowl isn’t touching the water. Whisk until the mixture triples in volume and is thick enough to leave a ribbon when the whisk is lifted.
Remove the bowl from the pan (save the hot water in the pan) and slowly whisk the olive oil into the egg yolk mix. Gradually increase the flow of oil until it is all incorporated, then season with salt to taste. Cover with cling film or a plate and keep warm.
To cook the leeks:
Place the trimmed whole leeks in the steamer and steam for 5–6 minutes until cooked. Remove them from the steamer and slice into 3–4cm lengths. Keep warm.
To cook the fish:
Trim the bass portions to neaten if necessary and season with salt. Lay the fish on a tray and drizzle lightly all over with olive oil. Cook in the steamer for 4–6 minutes,depending on thickness.
To assemble and serve:
While the fish is steaming, put the bowl of hollandaise back over the pan of water and gently warm it. Add the gherkin, capers and herbs. Mix well and taste the sauce for seasoning, adding a little more salt if required.
Once the fish is cooked, remove it from the steamer and place on a board. Put the leeks back into the steamer to keep warm. Meanwhile, carefully remove the skin from the bass and season the flesh lightly with salt.
Share the sauce equally among 4 warmed plates and top each with a portion of bass. Take the leeks from the steamer and place on top of the fish. Finish with freshly chopped herbs and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve straight away.
This recipe was first published in April 2019.