Baked Sea Bass with Roasted Red Peppers, Tomatoes, Anchovies and Potatoes
To prepare the sea bass yourself, first scale the fish working under cold running water over several sheets of newspaper. Grip the fish by its tail and scrape from tail to head using a fish scaler or blunt, thick-bladed knife. Cut away the dorsal, pelvic and anal fins using a strong pair of kitchen scissors. Slit open the belly of the fish from the anal fin up to the head and pull out the guts. Cut away any remaining pieces of gut with a small knife and wash out the cavity with plenty of cold water.
|A good pinch||of saffron strands|
|900g (2lb)||potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm (½in) slices|
|4||plum tomatoes, skinned and cut lengthways into quarters|
|50g (2oz)||anchovy fillets in oil, drained|
|150ml||(¼ pint) good quality chicken stock|
|4||red peppers, each one deseeded and cut into 8 chunks|
|8||garlic cloves, each sliced into three|
|8||small sprigs of oregano|
|85ml (3fl oz)||olive oil|
|1.5–1.75kg (3–4 lb)||sea bass, striped bass or kingfish, cleaned and trimmed|
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Place the saffron in a teacup, pour over 2 tablespoons of hot water and leave to soak.
Put the potatoes in a pan of boiling salted water and boil for 7 minutes. Drain well and arrange them in a narrow strip over the base of a roasting dish large enough to hold the sea bass either lengthways or diagonally. The potatoes should form a bed for the fish, leaving plenty of room on either side for the red peppers.
Scatter the tomatoes and anchovy fillets over the potatoes, then pour over the saffron water and stock. Scatter the pieces of red pepper down either side of the potatoes and sprinkle over the garlic, oregano sprigs and olive oil. Season everything well with salt and pepper and bake for 30 minutes.
Slash the fish 5–6 times down each side and then slash it in the opposite direction on just one side to give an attractive criss-cross pattern. Rub it generously with some olive oil, season well with salt and pepper and then rest it on top of the potatoes.
Return the dish to the oven and bake for a further 35 minutes, until the fish is cooked through. Serve with the roasted vegetables.