Loup de mer en papillotte

Sea bass, called bar in most of France, is called loup de mer on the Mediterranean, apparently because of its aggressive behaviour. It’s a delicious fish, with glossy silver scales and firm white flesh, but expensive enough to be an occasional treat. Yesterday our fishmonger had small ones at 16 euros a kilo, but they were beautifully fresh, and not farmed, a rare thing among fish these days. So I bought two, and with a big bag of moules de bouchot for mouclade, my purchases came to just over 17 euros.

Usually I cook bass the Catalan way, simply with tomatoes and lemon,or else grill it on the barbecue with fennel if it’s summer, so I’d just asked the fishmonger to gut them and leave the scales on. However I felt like a change, and Steve kindly agreed to fillet them. This is a very simple, healthy recipe and it was excellent, served with some sliced potatoes left over from a baked dorade earlier in the week.

For 2:
Fillets from 2 small sea bass
Vegetables, any combination of carrots, leeks, shallots, celery, courgettes, fennel
1/2 lemon
salt and pepper
olive oil
white wine

You will need two large sheets of foil or greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 180 C.

The vegetables should preferably be julienned; at any rate they must be very finely sliced, or they won’t be cooked when the fish is. Lay one fillet on each sheet of foil and divide the vegetables between them. Season with salt and pepper. Add two slices of lemon to each one, then cover with a second fillet. Slosh some olive oil over, and follow with a glug of the white wine you’ll be drinking with the fish. Then dot a few small dice of butter over. Carefully seal the parcels, making sure there are no leaks, place on a baking tray, and put in the oven for 20 minutes. Put the parcels directly on plates so the diners can unwrap them themselves.

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