Bar à l’aïoli

sea bass aioli1

Sea bass with garlic mayonnaise

If sea bass is not available where you live, choose another white-fleshed ocean fish that’s not too thin. Have your fishmonger scale and gut the fish, which you will fill with herbs and roast whole to preserve maximum flavor and tenderness.

As for the veggies, you may use the suggestions below or substitute other seasonal vegetables — for example, broccoli instead of asparagus in winter.

This dish may be served warm or at room temperature.

2 medium sea bass, about 1 to 1-1/4 pounds (450-550 g.) each
3-4 branches fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
bar21 branch fresh or dried rosemary
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 pound (250 g.) green beans
6 new or small carrots
6 new or small potatoes
8-12 asparagus spears or 2 medium zucchini
1 lemon, halved
1 cup aïoli

Begin by making the aïoli sauce. Set aside.

Rinse the sea bass and pat dry. Place the thyme and rosemary inside the cavity of each fish. Brush the fish with olive oil and place in an oiled roasting dish, preferably ceramic or glass.

Pare the vegetables: Peel and trim the carrots and place in a steamer basket over cold water. Rinse the beans, snip off the ends and add to the basket. If using asparagus, rinse, trim and add to the basket. If using zucchini, slice the zucchini into thick rounds and add to the basket.

You will turn on the heat under the vegetables when the fish goes into the oven. Tip: depending on how well done you like your veggies, you may want to let the carrots cook a little before adding the beans and asparagus or zucchini, which cook faster.

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 (200 C., 400 F.)

While the oven is heating up, rinse the potatoes, peeled or unpeeled. Place in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil. Cook until tender, or about 20 minutes from the time the water boils. You may do this in advance if you are serving the vegetables at room temperature.

Once the potato water is boiling, place the fish in the oven and roast until done, 15-20 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a knife to see whether the flesh is still translucent. It if is, roast for 5 minutes more. If not, the fish is done.

When you begin roasting the fish, turn on the heat under the steamer. The veggies should be done at around the same time as the fish – but do check to avoid overcooking.

The fish should be filleted before serving. Place on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut through the fish lengthwise along the central backbone. Peel off the skin. Gently insert your knife horizontally between the flesh of the fish and the bones. Lift off the top fillets and transfer to a serving platter or individual plates. Remove the bones. Now gently remove the skin from beneath the bottom fillets and lift them to the platter or plates.

Surround with the vegetables and lemon halves. Drizzle with some of the aïoli sauce. Place the rest of the sauce in a dish and bring to the table. Serves 2 very generously.


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