Baked sea bass with fennel and mushroom stuffing and almond butter

For a truly elegant fish dish try Richard Phillips's richly flavourful baked sea bass, ideal for dining a deux
By Richard Phillips
Baked sea bass with fennel and mushroom stuffing and almond butter
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 2
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Effort: medium

Ingredients

main

  • 150 g butter
  • 2 bulb fennel, diced
  • 10 button mushrooms, diced
  • 250 ml double cream
  • rock salt, and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 sea bass, butterflied (that is filleted from the backbone keeping the belly whole, head and tail removed)
  • 50 ml Pernod
  • olive oil, for drizzling and shallow-frying
  • juice of ½ lemons
  • 100 g blanched flaked almonds, toasted
  • 150 g spinach
  • 2 halves lemons, each wrapped in muslin, to serve

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas 7.

2. Heat 50g of the butter in a heavy-based frying pan. Add in the fennel and the mushrooms and fry very gently for 5 minutes until softened but not coloured.

3. Add in the double cream and cook, stirring often, until reduced by half.

4. Place the fennel mixture in a food processor and blend to a rough paste. Season with rock salt and freshly ground pepper and allow to cool.

5. Stuff the centre of each butterflied fish with the fennel paste, folding the fish halves over the filling.

6. Place each stuffed sea bass on a sheet of baking parchment.

7. Drizzle each sea bass with the Pernod and the olive oil and season with rock salt and freshly ground pepper.

8. Wrap each sea bass up in the parchment, place on a baking tray and bake for 6 minutes on each side.

9. As the sea bass nears its baking time, melt the remaining butter in a hot pan until it foams up and goes a nut-brown colour. Add the lemon juice and then the toasted almonds, mixing well.

10. Meanwhile, heat a little olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Add in the spinach and fry, stirring often, until wilted. Season with rock salt and freshly ground pepper.

11. Serve each sea bass on a portion of spinach, pour over the almond butter and serve with a muslin-wrapped lemon half.

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