Roasting a whole fish seems like a daunting task, but a few simple tricks makes this a foolproof, super simple and impressive dinner party dish every time. The first is getting your fishmonger (or in most of our cases the supermarket fish counter) to do most of the dirty work, i.e. gutting the fish and scaling it thoroughly. Next is always roast your fish over a layer of something – be it vegetables arranged artfully or rustically, or even just a thick layer of herbs. This ensures that the fish will cook evenly on the inside.
This particular recipe can be adapted in so many ways, from using different root vegetables to arrange the pretty bottom layer (fennel and potato would work great, or even asparagus could be a nice touch), to the herbs that are used to infuse the olive oil. It can even turn from Mediterranean to Thai instantly by changing the herbs and stuffings to bruised lemongrass, banana leaves and chillies. Use whatever’s seasonal, available and appealing to your palette!
– 1 whole fish (800g-1kg), I used silver bream but any type of bream or seabass would work with the same cooking time
– 3 lemons
– 3 tomatoes
– 1 large onion
– salt and pepper to taste
For the infused olive oil and stuffing:
– 200ml olive oil
– 6 garlic cloves, sliced
– 5 sprigs of rosemary
– 5 sprigs of thyme
– 5 sprigs of sage
– 1 dried chilli
– 2 heaped tsp of cumin seeds
1. Preheat the oven to 200C
2. Heat the olive oil on low heat in a small sauce pan with the garlic, chilli, cumin and half the sprigs of rosemary, thyme and sage.
3. Remove the infused oil from the heat when the garlic begins to brown, takes about 10 minutes on low heat.
4. Slice the lemons, tomatoes and onion into thin slices.
5. Brush the baking sheet with some of the infused oil before arranging the slices onto the sheet. The lemons and tomatoes will shrink so be sure to overlap them.
6. Brush the top layer of the vegetables and the fish with the oil, and stuff the fish with any remaining herbs and lemon slices
7. Place the fish on top of the arranged layer, brush with more oil, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper
8. Place in oven and roast for approximately 18 minutes until cooked through
9. Serve topped with the remaining herbs and garlic in the infused oil