The Recipe

We all have occasions that call for something a bit special; a time when we might splash out on some more expensive ingredients and treat ourselves to a little luxury. This recipe fits that bill. I’m a huge fan of seafood and this dish works well with sea bass or turbot, although the latter is more expensive. Both fish have a very delicate flavour so the recipe needs equally refined accompaniments that won’t overpower it. Here I’ve paired it with a subtly flavoured creamy champagne sauce and some simple, blanched vegetables finished in a stock made from the fish bones. The sauce only needs a small quantity of champagne though which means that you can enjoy the rest of the bottle with dinner. I like to add some oysters to the dish for that final flourish of decadence but you could leave them out if you’re not keen on oysters or aren’t prepared to push the boat out quite that far…

You can ask your fishmonger to fillet the fish for you, in which case you’ll need to ask for the bones so that you can make the fish stock, or you can fillet it yourself.

Frederick Forster – Head Chef, Boundary

Serves 4

1 x shallot, finely sliced
250ml white wine
250ml double cream
50ml champagne or sparkling wine
4 x portions of sea bass fillet, about 120g each, with skin (ask your fishmonger to reserve the bones for you)
2 x celery sticks, halved
1 x leek, trimmed and halved
8–10 x baby leeks, topped and tailed
1 tablespoon butter, plus 1 teaspoon
200g spinach
2 x tbsp vegetable oil
1 x tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
8 x oysters, shucked (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


The Recipe

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/fan 180ºC/Gas Mark 6.

Place the shallot and wine in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Bubble until reduced by half, then add the cream. Reduce by half again, then strain the sauce through a fine sieve. Return the sauce to the pan and bring back to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes until thickened. Stir in the champagne then remove from the heat and set aside until ready to serve.

Place the fish bones in a pan with the celery and leek. Cover with water and bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface of any foam that rises. Strain the stock then return to the pan and keep warm over a low heat.

Meanwhile, blanch the baby leeks in boiling salted water for three to four minutes, until just tender, then drain and refresh in cold water and set aside.

Melt the tablespoon of butter in a saucepan, then add the spinach, with seasoning, and cook until wilted.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, season the fillets on both sides and place in the pan, skin-side down, and fry over a medium heat, until the skin is crisp and golden. Flip the fish over, then add the teaspoon of butter and fry until cooked through. Add a ladleful of the warm fish stock to the pan, then cover the surface of the liquid with a circle of greaseproof paper and a lid. Place the pan in the oven for one minute, then remove from the oven and leave the fish to relax while you bring the final elements of the dish together.

Bring the fish stock back to the boil, then pour off most of the stock into a bowl or storage container, leaving about a tablespoon or so in the pan. Add the blanched leeks and the parsley, stir and heat through. Gently reheat the champagne sauce and the spinach.

To serve, place a sea bass portion on top of a mound of spinach and vegetables with the sauce poured around. Add two oysters per portion, if using.