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Roast wild sea bass with peas, girolles, mussels and crème fraiche

 

Serves 2:
2 x 200g wild sea bass fillets
200g mussels, live and beards removed
100g girolles, washed in warm water to remove grit
1 shallot
Sprig of thyme
1 glass white wine
450g fresh peas, in their pods
1 tbsp. crème fraiche
1 tbsp chives, chopped
1 lemon

Wild sea bass is one of the finest fish in the ocean, far superior to the farmed version. Its flesh is firm and meaty, and in this recipe, will ensure a satisfying feed. A good fish monger will scale, fillet and pin bone the fish for you.

  1. Pod the peas and blanch in boiling salted water until tender then plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain and dry on a clean cloth.
  2. Now attend to the mussels. It is important that the beard is removed and the mussels get rinsed in cold water. Slice the shallot finely and sweat in a little butter, add the thyme and the white wine and bring to the boil. This is going to help flavour the sauce. Add the mussels, give a quick stir, and cover the pan with a lid.
  3. When all the mussel shells are open, drain into a colander set over a bowl. This cooking liquor is pure nectar and it is imperative you keep it.  Allow a pan through a fine chinois and reduce by half, this will the mussels to cool for a few minutes and carefully remove from the shell. Pass the mussel liquor into intensify the flavour.
  4. Meanwhile, season the fish on both sides and in a hot, non-stick frying pan, fry the sea bass skin side down in oil. After a couple of minutes the skin should be crisp and you can transfer it to the oven to cook through. It shouldn’t take longer than 4 or 5 minutes at 180 degrees.
  5. Gently sweat the girolles in a little butter, toss in the peas, and add the mussel  juice. When boiling, stir in a big spoonful of the crème fraîche, add a squeeze of lemon juice and a tablespoon of chopped chives.
  6. Finally add the cooked mussels to warm through. Don’t boil them though as they will go tough. Serve with a hunk of baguette on the side to mop up your plate.