Claire Thomson, columnist for The Guardian and author of The Five O’Clock Apron, shares her recipe for a Baked Whole Fish with Roasted Lemon, Potato and Dill.
I am never without lemons. Cooking the fish along with the lemon makes for bright sunny holiday flavours. Cook fillets instead of whole fish switching spices and herbs around if you like? The potatoes cook to a crunchy sticky perfection.
400g waxy, salad or baby new potatoes, washed but unpeeled
1 lemon, unwaxed if possible, washed and scrubbed in hot water if not
Small bunch dill, very roughly chopped, stalks kept
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 whole sea bream (or bass), cleaned and scaled (at least 600g each)
½ a small glass dry white wine (optional)
1 tsp crushed fennel seeds
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
Salt and pepper
Heat the oven to 200°C/ gas mark 6. Cut the potatoes in slices no thicker than a pound coin
Line a baking tray with some greaseproof paper.
Spread the potatoes evenly on the base of the roasting tin, coating them with ½ the olive oil, salt, fennel and coriander seeds and pepper freshly milled black pepper.
Cut the ends off the lemon about ¼ of the way at each end and bake along with the potatoes to serve as lemon wedges to squeeze.
Slice the rest of the lemon into 4 slices and lay on top of the potatoes.
Make 3 slits on each side of the fish. Season the fish inside and out with salt, pepper, half the dill and remaining oil 2 and turn them with your hands to coat, and put the dill stalks into the belly of the fish. Pour the white over the potatoes if using.
Cook the potatoes and lemons in the oven for about 10 – 15 minutes then put the fish on top and cook for about 15 – 18 minutes. To check for doneness - the flesh near the bone at the thickest part of the fish should be opaque and hot to touch. The potatoes should be soft and caramelized at the pan edges.
Serve the fish and potatoes immediately with the hot lemon wedges to squeeze over the fish, a drizzle of extra olive oil and the rest of the chopped dill scattered over the dish.
Claire Thomson is a food writer and author of The Five O Clock Apron. Books 2 and 3 are in the pipeline for 2017.