by Kate Heyhoe
At this time of year, Catholic households observing Lent generally serve fish on Fridays, but this recipe is worth serving by all families any time of year. Roger Verge's New Entertaining in the French Style offers fresh ideas for fresh foods with recipes from the gastronomic paradise, Provence. Here's a simple recipe from the book that combines fresh herbs, ginger and tangy citrus in ways that complement the delicate flavor of the sea bream.
Photo: Chef Roger Verge
(Roasted Royal Sea Bream with Savory and Ginger-Orange Butter)
Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking: 35 minutes
Cost: Moderately expensive
Yield: 6 servings
1 royal sea bream, 4-1/2 to 5-1/2 pounds
salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch fresh savory
8 tablespoons olive oil
3 ounces fresh ginger
8-1/2 tablespoons butter
Shopping: The royal sea bream is one of the most noble salt-water fish. You can save a bit of money if you fish for it yourself. It can be recognized by its steel-gray color and slightly truncated pug-nosed snout topped by a slight golden bump. Ask the fish merchant to scale and gut it.
I prefer Thompson oranges for this recipe, as the oranges should be seedless.
2 hours ahead: Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the sea bream. Stuff it with several stems of savory and spread the remainder in an even layer on a baking dish. Place the fish on to of the savory and sprinkle it with oil. Put 3-4 tablespoons of water on the bottom of the dish, making sure it doesn't come in contact with the fish. Set the platter in a cool area, but not in the refrigerator.
Peel and finely grate the ginger. Grate the zest of 1/2 orange. Cut off the skin of the 3 oranges. Section the oranges over a bowl to catch the dripping juices.
50 minutes before serving: Preheat the oven to 450F.
30 minutes before serving: Bake the sea bream for 15 minutes (10 minutes for 2 smaller fish). Lower the temperature to 350F and cook for 20 minutes more. Check the dish. If the water has completely evaporated, add a bit more.
Just before serving: Put the reserved orange juice in a small saucepan with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Cut the butter into small pieces and briskly whisk it into the boiling juice.
Add the grated ginger and orange zest. Do not allow the sauce to boil. Put the orange sections in a sauce boat and pour the sauce on top. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
When the sea bream is cooked, present it on an attractive hot platter. Bring it to the table accompanied with the sauce boat of ginger-orange butter.
Improvise! The sea bream can be replaced with any other firm-fleshed saltwater fish such as red snapper or sea bass.
Roger Verge's New Entertaining in the French Style
Stewart, Tabori & Chang
1997 160 pgs. Hard cover $35.00
Reprinted by permission.
For an additional recipe from the book, see:
This page originally published as a Global Gourmet Today column in 1998.
Copyright © 2007, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page modified January 2007
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