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Ixta Belfrage’s Brown Butter Sea Bass with Tangerine Dipping Sauce and Lots of Herbs

by Ixta Belfrage from MEZCLA: Recipes to Excite

Cooked in a citrus butter and served with a tangerine dipping sauce, this whole baked sea bass recipe is the perfect sharing dish for summer gatherings.

From the book

Ixta Belfrage


Don’t be put off by the longish ingredients list and method. Read through it once and you’ll realise this recipe is actually very straightforward and requires very little hands-on cooking. This is a great interactive sharing dish; stuff pieces of fish into the lettuce leaves (fresh corn tortillas would be great, too), top with the herbs and dipping sauce and let it trickle down your wrists as you eat with your hands. You’ll need four tangerines and two limes in total for this recipe.

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1 x 800g sea bass, at room temperature
2 stalks of fresh rosemary
40g spring onions (about 4 thin ones
fine salt
1 baby gem lettuce, leaves separated
5g fresh mint leaves
5g fresh coriander leaves
5g fresh basil leaves
lime wedges
For the citrus butter:
40g unsalted butter
30g olive oil
1½ tbsp tangerine juice
2 tsp lime juice
3 cloves of garlic, skin left on and crushed with the side of a knife
1 tsp fine salt
About 20 twists of freshly ground black pepper
For the tangerine dipping sauce:
1½ tsp pul biber (use red bell pepper flakes if you don’t like heat)
1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped
¼ tsp finely grated fresh ginger
¾ tsp tomato purée/paste
¼ tsp fine salt
1½ tbsp mild and light olive oil
40g sweet, ripe cherry tomatoes, such as Datterini, very finely chopped
4 tbsp tangerine juice
2 tsp lime juice
¼ tsp fish sauce or light soy sauce

Essential kit

You will need: a pestle and mortar.


Preheat the oven to 190°C fan/210°C.

Pat the sea bass with kitchen towel to make sure it’s as dry as possible. Transfer it to a 33 x 26cm non-stick high-sided baking tray, arranging it diagonally, so it fits. The tray shouldn’t be much bigger than the fish, otherwise the citrus butter will burn. Use a very sharp knife to make 5 diagonal slits in the fish. Season the cavity with ¼ teaspoon of fine salt, then stuff with the rosemary and spring onions.

Put all the ingredients for the citrus butter into a small saucepan and place on a medium heat until the butter has melted. Pour over and around the fish.

Bake for 14 minutes (or longer if your fish is larger than 800g), then baste the fish well and turn the oven to the highest grill setting. Grill on the top shelf of the oven for 4–6 minutes, or until the skin begins to bubble and crisp. Keep a close eye, as some grills are much hotter than others.

While the fish is cooking, make the tangerine dipping sauce. Put the pul biber, garlic, ginger, tomato purée/paste and fine salt into a mortar and pound with a pestle to a rough paste.

Heat the oil in a small saucepan on a medium heat for 1 minute, then pour the hot oil into the mortar. Stir together, then add the chopped tomatoes, tangerine juice, lime juice and fish sauce.

Once cooked, transfer the sea bass to a large platter with the browned citrus butter. Discard the garlic skins. Serve with the lettuce and soft herbs to make parcels with, and the dipping sauce and lime wedges alongside.


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From the book: MEZCLA: Recipes to Excite

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