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Wild sea bass with salsa verde

A superb dish that makes the most of our home-grown spinach and asparagus

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Ingredients (Serves 4)
  • 1kg/2¼lb good mashing potatoes such as Desiree or Maris Piper
  • 2 bunches of small asparagus
  • 125g/4½oz unsalted butter
  • 2 x 1kg/2¼lb (approx) line-caught sea bass, filleted, descaled and pin boned
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • 2kg/4½lb ready-prepared baby spinach
  • For the salsa verde
  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ handful fresh mint
  • ½ handful fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp cornichons, drained
  • 1 small shallot, peeled and quartered
  • 2 anchovy fillets in oil, drained
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 50ml/2fl oz good olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp tiny capers

Method

Cook the potatoes in a large pan of lightly salted water. Meanwhile, prepare the salsa verde by blitzing the herbs, cornichons, shallot and anchovy fillets in a blender, then whisk in the red wine vinegar, mustard and olive oil to emulsify. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and set aside. Add the capers just before serving.

Blanch the asparagus in a pan of boiling water for 2 minutes then drain and refresh in ice-cold water. Once the potatoes are cooked, drain and leave to steam for a moment then mash with about 100g/4oz of the butter until smooth and creamy. Set aside, keeping warm.

Slice each sea bass fillet into 2 equal-size pieces and season on both sides. Heat a nonstick pan until hot, then add a drop of olive oil. Add the fish, skin side down, to the pan then press down with a spatula for 2 minutes to get the skin crispy. Carefully turn the fish over, turn down the heat and add the remaining butter to the pan. Cook the fish for another 3-5 minutes until cooked and golden brown. Remove from the pan and reserve, keeping warm.

Turn the heat back up, add the blanched asparagus and spinach to the pan, season and heat through until the spinach begins to wilt.

To serve, spoon a dollop of the mash on to warmed serving plates, top with the spinach and asparagus, sit a sea bass fillet on top and finish with a spoonful of salsa verde. Serve straight away.

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