Thursday, 20 September 2007


1x1.6kg (3 1/2lb) Whole line-caught bass, scaled and gutted
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

The Sweet potatoes:
4 - 5 tbsp olive oila pinch or two of dried red chilli flakes
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm (3/4in) cubes

For the dressing:
1 small red onion, peeled and very finely chopped
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp Japanese rice wine
2 pinches caster sugar
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp chopped parsley

Place the olive oil for the sweet potatoes in a large wok and heat. Preheat the oven to 230°C, 450°F, Gas Mark 8.

Add the chilli flakes to the hot oil, then the sweet potatoes, and coat these well with the olive oil and chilli. Season well then turn the heat right down. Cover the lid. (Most large saucepan lids will not fit into a wok, but don't worry too much, it just needs to cover the food. You can use foil if you prefer.) They will probably cook in 20 minutes.

While they are cooking, cut the fins off the bass with a pair of scissors, leaving the head on. With a sharp knife, neatly score the fish one way right down its length, just under the skin.

Place the fish in a large baking tray. Drizzle over a little olive oil and season well. Bake for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, place all the ingredients for the dressing, apart from the parsley, in a bowl, and season well. Add the parsley and mix well.

After about 20 minutes, check the potatoes: they should be soft. If cooked, remove from the stove and season again. Keep warm.

To test the bass is cooked, use two spoons to gently pull the flesh apart. The flakes should fall apart, with a little resistance, but not be over-cooked. If the fish is not cooked, cover with foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes.

Spoon the sweet potatoes around the outside of the fish, then spoon over all the dressing. Take the whole tray to the table, and let everyone help themselves. The only addition I'd recommend is crisp green salad, with plenty of cucumber, cress, watercress, and spring onion, lightly dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.

Serves 4-6

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