Grilled Bass

Tomato, Red Pepper & Anchovy Sauce, Tapenade

Recipe from Nathan’s 2023 cookbook, ‘Fish for Dinner’

“Tomatoes, red peppers, olives and anchovies are some of my favourite ingredients – Mediterranean classics that just dance together so well. Bass has a wonderful flavour and part-oily, part-creamy, flaky flesh when cooked. Grilled this way, with a mixture of the harder, perennial herbs it smells amazing and tastes even better. This dish showcases everything I believe in – the best fish, the best seasonal ingredients, great technique and, most importantly, simplicity. Nothing better! “- Nathan

Alternative fish:
bream, grey mullet, sea bass, sea bream, mullet

Serves 4

3 tablespoons chopped herbs, like savory, thyme, rosemary and oregano
4 x 160-200g (5½-7oz) fillet portions of bass (from a 1.5kg/3lb 5oz fish)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Shoestring potatoes or French fries,
to serve

For the sauce
A drizzle of olive oil
1 small red onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 × 480g (17oz) jar of chargrilled red (bell)
peppers in vinegar brine, roughly chopped
1 × 150g (5½oz) can anchovies in oil
2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves only
3 sprigs of thyme
500g (1lb 2oz) ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
50ml (2fl oz) cider vinegar
Sea salt

For the tapenade
200g (7oz) pitted black olives
1 tablespoon capers in brine or salt
2 salted anchovy fillets
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
To finish
A few sprigs of thyme, to garnish
Extra virgin olive oil

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Enjoy 70 seafood recipes to cook at home with Nathan’s brand new book. ‘Fish for Dinner‘ out now.

First make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. When hot, add the red onion and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Next, add the garlic and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.

Now add the (bell) peppers and continue to cook the mixture until it begins to catch a little. Add the anchovies, herbs and tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes on a slightly lower heat, stirring occasionally. Pour in the vinegar and season with salt, turn the heat even lower and cook down until the contents of the pan collapse and thicken, stirring regularly.

When the ingredients are thick and rich, transfer them to a food processor or blender and blitz for 2 minutes until everything is smooth. Set a sieve (strainer) over a bowl and pour the contents into it. Using the back of a ladle or big spoon, push the sauce through the sieve, catching all the tomato and pepper skins and woody herbs, which you can then discard.

The finished sauce is now in the bowl. Taste and season with salt if required and keep warm. Finish with 1 tablespoon of the chopped herbs For the tapenade, place all the ingredients in a small food processor and blitz until well blended but not super-fine; keep it a little chunky. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

To cook the bass, preheat your grill (broiler) to the hottest setting. Take the fillets and coat them with the olive oil and the rest of the herbs then season well. Place them on a thick grill pan that won’t buckle under the high heat, skin-side up. When you have all your garnishes ready and the sauce is warm and your wine glasses are full, cook the fish.

Slide the bass under the grill so that it’s 5cm (2in) away from the grill flames or electric elements. Cook hard until the fish skin is well blistered and golden; this should take about 3-4 minutes. Carefully, using a thick oven cloth, slide the tray out from under the grill. Be aware the olive oil may spit a little because of the water, which is naturally in the fish, and the oil mixing together at such a high heat. Using a spoon and the oil that is on the tray, carefully baste the fish skin for 1 minute. Lower the grill height to about 10cm (4in) and slide the tray back under and cook for a further 3 minutes. The fish will now be cooked.

Warm 4 plates and spoon 4 tablespoons of sauce into the centre of each plate. Top each pool of sauce with the cooked bass and top the fish with a dessertspoon of tapenade. Finish with picked thyme, sea salt and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately with shoestring potatoes or French fries.