So today was one of those days that turned out the way I would imagine every day of ‘island life’ to be before I lived on one myself. A regular customer turns up at the caf with a trailer in which lie 3 big sea bass that he’s only just caught fresh out the sea, and he gives one to my boss!
The cooks get straight to it, scaling gutting and filleting it and then it’s divvied up and fuck yeah we have sea bass for tea!! It can’t get fresher or more local than that! Thats how i dreamt living on a small island surrounded by sea and fishermen (very presumptuous of me!) would be. Well today it was, and I bet that’s the freshest fish I’ve ever eaten.
Excited by the idea of this fish being a real ‘living off the is/land’ moment I decided to see if I could cook it using as many local ingredients as possible and although it was not 100%, I am quite happy with it for a first attempt! The only ingredients I used that were not from the island was the stock (which I could make myself), the white wine (which could be replaced with Rocquettes cider), the vinegar and the pepper and salt (guernsey sea salt!? I want to have a go at making that next year when there’s enough warmth for naturally evaporating sea water).
It was a simple dish; I baked the bass seasoned and in a bit of butter, boiled some beans, roasted some carrots and potatoes and made a rosemary butter sauce. It tasted good! I think I forget how much you can appreciate simple uncomplicated flavours. I’m so used to over doing them and trying to be really experimental that I assume that food that hasn’t been covered in lots of seasoning or spice is bland. It’s not… I need to remember this, sometimes just tasting the actual flavours of a few ingredient is all you need.
This is how I want to try and eat; this food hasn’t travelled hundreds of miles, it didn’t cost the earth and it tastes amazing… it is achievable!
Baked Sea Bass with Seasonal Vegetables and Rosemary Butter Sauce
Baking Bass: Bass can be cooked in numerous ways but here I lightly seasoned them and added a little butter (instead of oil- there’s no guernsey oil!), wrapped each one in foil and cooked in an oven at 220 deg c for just over 10 mins.
Rosemary Butter Sauce
I omitted the garlic because I couldn’t get hold of any grown on island (one for the veg patch!) and to make this properly you should strain it but I was happy eating all the chopped shallots and rosemary so I didn’t bother!
I made this sauce for 2 people
the leaves from 2 rosemary sprigs
1/4 tspn crushed black pepper
3 shallots, finely chopped
90ml white wine (will definitely try rocquettes cider next time)
70ml cider vinegar
100ml chicken/fish/veg stock with1 tablespoon of flour mixed in
-Add a knob of butter to a saucepan over a low/med heat and cook the rosemary leaves, crushed pepper and shallots until they start to ‘melt’.
– Stir in the wine and vinegar and turn up the heat, simmer and reduce until the liquid is shiny and glossy.
– Then stir in the stock (with the flour already mixed in) and simmer for another 5 mins.
– Add the milk and then stir in the butter a little at a time, cook until glossy and thickened but still of a good pouring consistency.
– Strain… or just eat all the good stuff!