Dark Days Challenge Not Quite Chish & Fips

I came across the Dark Days Challenge on the ‘Urban Hennery’ blog written by Laura.
Essentially you’re challenged to eat at least one meal a week that is ‘SOLE’:
  • Sustainable
  • Organic
  • Local
  • Ethical
Sounds easy.  That’s what I thought until I went to the shops.  I could get organic but from Egypt or Israel: not exactly local or sustainable in transport terms. And the range of organic stuff in my ‘in the sticks’ shops wasn’t very impressive.
Anyway, I thought some more and found that I had the makings at home already.  It turned out to be a delight and a surprise.  Fish & Chips – well sort of… 

Roasted sea bass and potatoes recipe

Ingredients for the fish

Here’s the main ingredient, a beautiful Sea Bass.
Sea bassIt was caught a couple of months ago locally (by line) around Anglesey by my friend Gareth.  You can’t really get a lot more local and as it’s a wild fish I guess it counts as organic.  I froze it as soon as I received it.  Below it is some of the flavouring which is some of the prostrate rosemary that grows in my garden.

I also had some onion, garlic and thyme flavoured olive oil from making some confit of fish the previous day.

Method for the fish

Heat a fan oven to 230°C (450°F)

Take a sheet of foil large enough to make a parcel to seal the bass in and oil it  lightly.

Season the fish inside and out with salt and pepper.  Place the fish on the foil with a sprig of rosemary underneath, two inside the body cavity and one on top.  Spoon your flavoured oil generously over the fish.Seal the foil parcel and place in a roasting tin.

Cook in the oven for 30 minutes and then let the fish rest for 5 or 10 minutes before serving.

The Potatoes

Here’s my foolproof method for crispy roast potatoes.  You need floury ‘old’ potatoes for this to work.  In the UK I prefer to use either ‘King Edwards’ or ‘Maris Piper’.  Put the baking tray you are going to cook the potatoes on in the oven when you put it on to warm up for the fish.  The tray should not be deep or the potatoes will steam rather than roast and not be crispy.

Peel and parboil potatoes in a covered pan your potatoes for 5 minutes.  Drain and return potatoes to pan.  Cover and shake the pan so that the edges of the potatoes get roughened.  What you’re doing is increasing the surface area and providing the ‘bits’ that will crisp up in the heat of the oven.

Put whatever oil or fat you wish to use onto the very hot tray from the oven.  You need just enough fat to coat the potatoes.  Too much fat and again you will ‘steam’ rather than roast them.  I used olive oil.  Roll the potatoes in the oil and then salt and pepper them to taste.

Put in the oven. In my fan oven the potatoes will be done just right in 40 minutes, your oven may vary.  Turn the potatoes over half way through the cooking.

When you get it right, you’ll have fabulously crispy golden potatoes on the outside and fluffy on the inside.  Heaven.

Obviously the pots need to go in the oven before the fish, you can do them in the same oven.

My veg – tarragon runner beans

I have some lovely runner beans in the freezer that we grew in 2009.  They’d been blanched and frozen immediately after picking.  All that needs to happen with them is to get them hot and dress them nicely.  For the dressing I had a nice extra virgin olive oil and some tarragon vinegar made from the tarragon we grew in the polytunnel this year.

Place in a saucepan and cover with boiling water.  Bring to a simmer for 3 minutes.  Drain and then swoosh with olive oil and tarragon vinegar (about a tablespoon each) and season to taste.  Mix around to combine.

The result

The fish had a wonderfully ‘chip shop’ texture and flavour, set off nicely by the salty roast potatoes and the flavousome vinegar of the runner beans.  A good range of textures too.  All in all a delightful and simple meal – you could have it all on the table in under an hour from starting.

Buon apetito!



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One response to “Dark Days Challenge Not Quite Chish & Fips”

  1. Jono Avatar

    My mouth is watering at that bass. I love fishing for them around here come the warmer months. That looks the perfect size for eating.

    Roll on spring.

    Like the SOLE idea a lot too. I'll definitely check that out.