Sea bass with Sorrel, samphire and chilli
Summer has arrived which means we are going to try are very best at al fresco dining. An image of sitting out in the evening sun with sound of crickets in the background springs to mind – sadly the reality is shivering outside in the wind and driving rain wrapped up with the temperature dropping to 10c – but lets think positively! Our favourite dish for an alfresco feast is quite possibly a marinated fish with some seasonal greens and new potatoes. Simple, fresh and easy. We marinade the whole fillet in an oven proof dish and serve it straight from the oven – everyone just digs in and the pressure is off the cook. In this recipe we have used sea bass, which is pretty expensive so you can easily swap for hake, cod, haddock or halibut. Even though we are eating outside we always lay our table with a fresh table cloth, a couple of candles and some seasonal flowers. If it’s a special occasion we will use linen or cotton napkins and place some fresh sourdough and good quality olive oil on the table. Here we have used sorrel – perhaps an ingredient that you are unfamiliar with. Sorrel is like a lemony tasting spinach (so you can substitute the sorrel in this recipe for spinach with a little added lemon). It’s the young brighter green leaves that you want to go for – a wonderful addition to a salad. Sorrel is easy to grow, it will appear in Spring and last till late summer as long as you keep it picked, otherwise it ‘bolts’ and you end up with large bitter leaves (you can feed these to your hens if you have them). If you don’t have a terrace or garden to grow your own then its easily picked up at a greengrocer, your local farmers market, Able and Cole or a larger Waitrose. You could also head to a garden centre and buy a pre-potted sorrel and have a fresh plant grow on your counter, as you would herbs. When it comes to using sorrel it goes very well with eggs and cheese, so you will find many recipes for cooking it down to fill omelettes, tarts, soups and sauces. The best known of French sorrel soups is made purely of sorrel and water, with an enriching finale of egg yolks and cream. In other soups’ it provides an accent to sharpen several milder vegetables, or blends in with a collection of leaves from parsley to lettuce. This marinade can also be used in marinade meat – fantastic over chicken or as a sauce to accompany a meal, if you make extra it will keep in the fridge for a week or so.