Sea bream with fennel salad and orange pearls


Inspired by a Jason Atherton recipe, Trota pulled out all the stops and planned the day well in advance. So – with Salmon gone fishing and Fidget watching Crufts re-runs – Trota, fully self-expressed, had the cartoon kitchen all to herself. Joy!

Sea bream with fennel salad and orange pearls

fish fennel and orange

Dear reader, this is not for the faint hearted: it takes preparation and dedication. But, hey, the reward…

There are three main elements: the orange dressing, the fennel and onion salad, and the fish (sea bream ideal, sea bass also good).

Orange dressing: you will need 2 blood oranges (1 peeled and segmented, 1 zested and juiced), 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, 50ml olive oil, fennel fronds. Heat the orange juice in a small saucepan and reduce by two-thirds, stir in the zest and set aside to cool. To create orange ‘pearls’ put the orange segments in a heatproof plastic bag and place in a pan of boiling water for 10–15 seconds, remove from the water and tease apart the segments to create pearls. Mix the pearls into the chilled reduced orange juice, stir in the white wine vinegar, the olive oil and the fennel fronds and set aside until you are ready to serve.

Fennel and onion salad: you will need 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced (a mandolin helps), ½ red onion (peeled and thinly sliced – mandolin again), 40g black olives stoned and quartered lengthways, some fennel fronds, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp white wine vinegar. Mix well in a bowl, season and set aside.

Now the fish: you will need one fillet per portion. Score the skin, season to taste, and pan-fry with 1 tbsp olive oil, skin-side down for 2–3min until you see the fish is cooked two-thirds through; turn it over and finish cooking on the other side for another minute or two.

To serve, make a bed of the fennel and onion salad, place the fish on top (skin-side up) and decorate the plate (artistically, like Trota) with the orange pearl sauce.

This is an indulgent summer treat, magnificent with a glass of the chilled white – something, indeed, for those very special me-moments. But predictably, with Trota about to tuck in, the spell is rudely broken by Salmon and Fidget turning up demanding their fair share. Just as well that Trota was well prepared, and it was happy days all round in the cartoon kitchen.

Hardly aligned with Salmon’s one-pot philosophy (in fact, he did mention outsourcing the washing up), but what a flavour sensation!