Thursday, 19 August 2010

SEABASS AND POTATOES

Here's another of those simple-yet-delicious dishes that relies on good ingredients and only a small amount of preparation. I adapted it from a recipe in one of the River Cafe cookbooks. I have never eaten at the eponymous restaurant, though I have always fancied it. People who have been tell me it is very, very good, but oh so expensive - and the Methodist in me worries about spending so much money on a meal I could probably cook myself at home.

Until the 'River Cafe Easy' books came out, I was rather put off the main cookbook because of the bossy instructions to "only use the finest Calabrian anchovies" or "first cold pressing of olive oil from a hilltop farm in Emiglia-Romana". And where was I supposed to buy Cavolo Nero? (A friend of mine grows it on her allotment now, handily). I do not have a problem about using good ingredients, but I prefer to shop at Waitrose or the Whole Food Market in Kensington, or the local fruit and veg market, rather than have to trek over to Italy every time I need some olive oil or Parmesan cheese. Incidentally, a friend brought me a massive hunk of Parmesan from Bologna the other year: it was fantastic.

The one ingredient that is important for this recipe is the right kind of potato. I use Charlotte potatoes, which are sometimes marketed as "Mediterranean". They have the requisite slightly waxy flesh which holds it shape well, and a delicate buttery, earthy flavour. This dish requires nothing more than a green salad, or a handful of rocket or lambs lettuce. A slick of salsa verde is good too. And by the way, the potatoes are delicious fried with an egg for breakfast if there are any left over!

Serves 4
4 seabass fillets
200g waxy potatoes
10 black olives, pitted and chopped or roughly crumbled
A handful of caper (optional)
Olive oil
Sea salt
1 tsp fresh thyme
approx 1 small glass of white wine

Oven 200C

Line a shallow dish with baking parchment and oil lightly.

Cook the potatoes in salted water until just done. Drain and allow to cool, then slice or roughly crush them and arrange in the dish. Scatter with olives, capers and fresh thyme. Season with sea salt and pour over a good slug of olive oil. Bake in the oven until the potatoes are just beginning to crisp and are golden brown. Place the seabass fillets on top of the potaoes, skin side up, and pour some white wine over to prevent the potatoes drying out. Cook for another 10 mins or so until the fish skin is crisp. Serve with green salad, or any other green vegetable.

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