75ml extra virgin olive oil
1 sea bream, weighing about 2kg, cleaned and scaled
3 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 2cm dice
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
100g small black olives, pitted
100ml dry white wine
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
The current trend in many gastropubs, pioneered by the Anchor and Hope at Waterloo in London, is for sharing plates. Be it a roast rib of beef, a casserole, or duck or lamb, it seems that people like nothing more than to be presented with an outsized dish of food that they can serve up to their friends, almost like having your own party in the pub. Large fish lend themselves particularly well to this sort of presentation, with sea bass and sea bream being the perfect specimens. Either fish will do for this simple recipe.
Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas Mark 7. Choose a gratin dish large enough to hold the fish comfortably and brush it with a little of the olive oil. Make two or three slashes through to the bone on each side of the fish, at the fleshy end close to the head. Season the fish inside and out and put it in the dish. Scatter over the tomatoes, garlic and olives, then pour over the white wine and the remaining olive oil. Place the dish on the middle shelf of the hot oven and immediately turn the heat down to 200C/Gas Mark 6. This gentler heat will cook the fish through without drying up the liquid or singeing the fish. Bake for 30–40 minutes, until the fish is firm to the touch and the flesh is beginning to flake away from the bone. Carefully transfer the bream to a warm platter.
Tip the chopped parsley into the gratin dish and swirl it around in the cooking juices, then pour the contents of the dish over the bream. Serve immediately, with steamed potatoes.
From 'The Gastropub Classics Cookbook' by Trish Hilferty (Absolute Press £12.99).
Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2007, South Africa
The Chenin Blanc grape variety is a safe bet for a very tasty match to the sea bream. South African winemaker Bellingham offers an old Vine Chenin Blanc with oak notes to enhance the flavours of the fish and the tomatoes.
Majestic, £8.99, www.majestic.co.uk