Sea Bass and a Prawn Bisque sauce

I designed and refined this recipe with the aim of creating my perfect  dinner treat with all of my favourite flavours and ingredients. It is most certainly up there at the top of my list. It really isn’t hard, honestly. Everyone can make mash right? And you can fry a piece of fish? Good news- the sauce pretty much makes itself as by frying the leftover prawn shells releases a wonderful larva of juicy orange oils which adds so much flavour that would otherwise have been criminally thrown in the bin. The challenge comes with getting the fish and prawns hot and cooked perfectly at the same time as the sauce is warm and of particular consistency with the warm mash and wilted spinach. Oh and of course having time to take a photograph in a temperamental kitchen with hungry waiting guests….the later is optional of course. This is lovely served with a chilled glass of Muscadet….

Serves 4

  • 4 sea bass fillets
  • 18-20 whole, raw king prawns (shell and heads on)
  • 1 small carrot, diced finely
  • 1 small onion, diced finely
  • ½ bulb fennel, diced finely
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • Splash whiskey
  • 600ml hot fish stock
  • 500g potatoes, peeled, quartered
  • 40g butter
  • 100ml whole milk
  • 4 spring onions, finely chopped and fried lightly in oil
  • Handful parsley, finely chopped
  • 200g spinach
  • Olive oil
  • Knob of butter
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Begin with the sauce. Peel the prawns to retain the shells and the heads. De-vein the prawns and set aside. Heat a splash of oil with the knob of butter in a saucepan and gently soften the carrot, onion and fennel with the prawn shells and heads with the bay leaf. Cook for about 20 minutes until the prawns have turned orange and released their juices.
  2. Next add the tomato puree and cook out for a few minutes before deglazing the pan with the whiskey.
  3. Now add the hot fish stock and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. After 30 minutes, use a potato masher to crush all the flavours together. Remove the bay leaf and then, using a hand blender, blend the sauce together. Pass through a fine sieve into a clean pan, discarding the solids. Taste and simmer to reduce if too thin to your liking. Only at the end season the sauce as reducing it will concentrate any salt added previously. Keep on a low heat while you make the rest of the dish.
  5. Boil the potatoes in salted water for about 15-20minutes until soft but not waterlogged. Meanwhile, melt the butter and warm the milk together in a pan.
  6. When soft, drain the potatoes and leave to steam dry for a few minutes before passing through a potato ricer for really smooth mash, or mashing by hand. Season generously and add the milk and butter and mix until smooth. Add the spring onions and parsley and plenty of seasoning. Set aside to keep warm while you fry the fish.
  7. Make sure your sauce is on the heat now and you have your spinach at the ready. Heat a frying pan until hot and add a splash of oil. Season your fish and then fry skin side down in the hot oil for 3-4 minutes (depending on size) and add your prawns to the hot sauce to cook gently until pink at the same time. Complete the fish cooking by flipping carefully onto the flesh side for 1 minute.
  8. Remove the fish and leave to rest very briefly while you quickly add the spinach to the pan juices, with plenty of seasoning and leave to wilt while you plate up.
  9. Serve a spoonful or potato into a warmed serving bowl. Top with a spoonful of spinach and the fish fillet, crispy skin side up.
  10. Spoon around the prawn bisque sauce including a few prawns per dish. Serve!