Thursday , October 21 2021

Wild sea bass, broccoli, Pommes Anna, squid, almond and burnt butter crumb

By Roger Hickman

Serves 4


4x120g pieces of wild sea bass fillet, skin on
750g of Maris piper potatoes
350g of butter
2 heads broccoli
1 shallot
3 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped
16 finely-cut squid rings
50g of cornflower
Sparkling water
Rape seed oil
50g of milk powder
Handful of nibbed almonds, toasted

1. Season the sea bass fillets with salt and pepper.  Heat an oven-proof frying pan until it is hot, add a splash of oil, reduce the heat slightly, and fry the fillets, skin side down.  While they are frying, weigh them down by covering them in greaseproof paper and putting a weight on each – this will ensure all of the skin is touching the frying pan.  Don’t be tempted to move the fillets around.

2. After about three minutes the fish will no longer be sticking, and the skin will have started to crisp.  Turn the fillets over, and put the whole pan in the oven at 180°C for a further three minutes.

3. To make the Pommes Anna, peel the potatoes and then slice thinly with a mandolin.  Put the slices in a large bowl, and season well with salt and pepper.  Melt 250g butter in a pan and then pour the butter over the potato slices, ensuring they are well coated.

4. Let the potatoes cool, then layer the slices in an oven dish to a depth of about 4cm.  Cover with tin foil, then bake in the oven at 180°C until a knife goes easily through them – that should be 20-25 minutes.  Remove from the oven, and press while still warm.  Transfer to the fridge to firm up.  When you are ready to serve, remove from the fridge, cut into neat portion-sized pieces, and re-heat on an oven tray in the oven for ten minutes.

5. Trim one of the heads of broccoli into 12 neat florets, and blanch these for 3-4 minutes.  If you are not serving them immediately, refresh in cold water, and to re-heat, immerse them in boiling water for no more than a minute.

6. Take the trimmings from your first head of broccoli and the entire second head, and blitz in a food processor until you have a coarse crumb.  Sweat this in some butter and oil with the chopped shallot and the thyme leaves.  Because the broccoli is in such small pieces, this should take no more than two minutes – you are aiming to cook it quickly to preserve its colour.

7. Now put in just enough water to cover the broccoli, and cook until the water disappears.  Blitz again while hot to form a puree, and pas it through a fine sieve if you want to make it super-smooth.  If you are not using it immediately, cool the puree over ice to preserve its colour, and re-heat at the last minute to serve.

8. To make the tempura squid rings, add a little sparkling water at a time to the cornflour, until you have a slightly runny batter.  Dip the squid rings in this, and deep fry in rape seed oil at 180°C until it starts to colour – certainly no more than a minute. 

8. Finally, the burnt butter crumb with almonds.  Melt 100g of butter until it starts to reach noisette stage (in other words, starting to brown).  Add the milk powder, which will absorb the butter and start to caramelise, looking a little like a crumble.  Remove while still light golden, and allow to cool on a clean J-cloth.  Add in the toasted nibbed almonds, and serve the crumb on the pate at room temperature.

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