Whenever Kipper and I buy fish, she always wants to get “the one with a head on!” (I’m not entirely convinced that this is normal for a pre-schooler, but then, I’m fairly convinced she’s not entirely normal, so hey ho.) Typically, I don’t get the one with a head on, because they’re a pest to serve, requiring a reasonably competent dissection job to get them onto plates looking edible (hence the absence of any ‘plated’ photos below!). I prefer fish to come ready filleted, if at all possible. But, this time I did get “the one with a head on” – in fact, I got two with heads on – and jolly delicious they were too.
Sea bream is a really tasty, sweet-fleshed fish, so it doesn’t need much mucking about with. I opted to stuff the fish with plenty of fresh herbs and lemon, and leave it at that. The herbs and lemon imparted a lovely freshness into the fish, without masking its delicate flavour. You can use this method with other whole fish too – sea bass, trout, even sardines. Yum. Vary the herbs to your preference.
I forced myself to leave this fish in the oven longer than usual, because I always make the same mistake when I cook whole fish, which is to think they’ll cook as quickly as fillets. They won’t. Sea bream (and the like) are quite thick, and need at good 25+ minutes to cook through. Otherwise, the flesh won’t come away from the bone, it will look a proper mess, and the middle of the fish will be raw and cold. Yuk. Just leave it in the oven longer, OK?
The herb and lemon stuffing is best discarded before serving, but you can use some more (uncooked) herbs and lemon for a garnish, if you like. I wish I had a photo of this to show you, but I don’t, sorry. I’m sure you have a good imagination.
Two sea bream served two adults and a small person adequately. I’d say serves 2-3 adults without any problem.
- 4-6 tbsp olive oil
- 2 whole sea bream
- 3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 3-4 sprigs fresh sage
- 6-8 sprigs fresh thyme
- 6-8 sprigs fresh parsley
- 1 lemon
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with foil and brush with olive oil.
- Thoroughly wash the fish inside and out and pat dry with paper towels. Cut off the fins and discard. Place on the oiled foil.
- Put a sprig of rosemary, a sprig of sage and 2 sprigs each of thyme and parsley, into the body cavity of each fish. Tuck 2-3 halved lemon slices around the herbs.
- Arrange any remaining herbs and lemon around/over the fish. Drizzle the fish with a little more oil.
- Brush another piece of foil with olive oil and place over the fish. Scrunch the edges of the top and bottom foil sheets together to seal and create a foil parcel around the fish.
- Bake at 180C for 25-30 minutes until the fish is cooked through and comes away from the bone easily.
- Discard the skin, bones, herbs and lemon, and serve.
The sea bream for this recipe came from the fab fish counter at Morrisons – it was on special offer so two fish were £5. I also got a lovely bunch of mixed fresh herbs for the stuffing for 79p, and 2 lemons and 2 limes were 99p (the rest will go in G&T this weekend!).
Morrisons sent me shopping vouchers to buy ingredients. I was not required to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.