Orford-landed Sea Bass with Crispy Potatoes, Bacon and Sea Purslane
Portion/Yield:Serves 4 as a main course
Orford is a fantastic place, though getting to it is slightly tricky as it requires manoeuvring down narrow country lanes, but the ‘pot of gold at the end of the rainbow’ is fantastic. A true gem in its own right, the village has lots of character and wonderful ‘olde worlde’ seaside charm.
Small coastal villages such as Orford, home to the local fishing trade, can be found all along Britain’s coastline. It’s up to each and every cook out there to go and rediscover these small villages and buy freshly caught fish to support the local economy.
Sea purslane is a fantastic wild coastal foraging find with its matt green, slightly swollen leaves and an interesting, salty taste of the sea. It combines well with sea bass and adds a lovely flavour to this special dish.
Ingredients & Method
For the seaweed vinaigrette
- a large handful of baby spinach leaves (about 40g)
- 2 dark green sheets nori (paper-thin toasted sheets of seaweed)
- 2 teaspoons mirin
- 2 teaspoons warm water
- juice of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil or groundnut oil
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the pan-roasted sea bass and warm smoked bacon, broad bean and sea purslane salad
- 8 new potatoes (480–520g total weight), washed but left unpeeled
- 20 fresh sea purslane leaves
- 2 French Breakfast radishes, trimmed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 rashers smoked back bacon, cut into strips
- 125g fresh broad beans, double podded
- 4 sea bass fillets (150–180g each), skin on, pin bones removed
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the broad bean and sea purslane tempura
- 75g self-raising flour
- 20g cornflour
- a pinch of sea salt
- 1 egg yolk
- 125ml sparkling water
- 2 egg whites
- sunflower oil, for deep-frying
- 50g fresh broad beans, double podded
- 20 fresh sea purslane leaves, rinsed and patted dry
First, make the seaweed vinaigrette and then refrigerate it to allow the flavours to develop. Put the baby spinach leaves, nori sheets, mirin, warm water, lime juice and salt and pepper in a blender and blend together until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the sunflower oil until it is all incorporated. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Pour the vinaigrette into a bowl, then cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 20 minutes before using.
Meanwhile, prepare the potatoes for the salad to accompany the sea bass. Cook the new potatoes in a pan of boiling salted water for 15–18 minutes or until tender. Drain, refresh in cold water, then drain again. Peel the potatoes, then break them into irregular, bite-sized chunks. Set aside at room temperature.
Next, make the batter for the broad bean and sea purslane tempura. Put the flour, cornflour, salt, egg yolk and sparkling water into a bowl and mix together to form a smooth paste. In a separate grease-free bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold the whisked egg whites into the batter and then set aside for 5 minutes.
Finish the salad. Rinse the sea purslane leaves and pat dry, then finely shred them. Finely slice the radishes using a mandolin. Set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, non-stick frying pan until hot, then sauté the potato chunks and bacon strips over a high heat for 5–6 minutes or until golden brown. Stir in the shredded sea purslane and the broad beans and sauté for a further 1–2 minutes or until heated through, then taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Remove from the heat, stir in the radishes and keep warm.
Meanwhile, finish the tempura, heat some sunflower oil in an electric deep-fat fryer or in a deep frying pan to a temperature of 160°C (or until a small piece of bread browns within 20 seconds in the hot oil). Once the oil is hot enough and you are ready to serve, first dip the broad beans in the tempura batter and deep-fry them in the hot oil for about 2 minutes or until golden and crisp all over. Using a slotted spoon, remove and drain the broad bean tempura on kitchen paper, season with salt and keep hot. Next, dip the sea purslane leaves in the tempura batter and deep-fry them in the hot oil for 11/2–2 minutes or until golden and crisp all over. Using a slotted spoon, remove and drain the sea purslane tempura on kitchen paper, season with salt and keep hot.
In the meantime, cook the fish. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, non-stick frying pan until hot. Season the fish fillets with salt only, then place the fillets, skin-side down, in the pan and cook over a high heat for about 2 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fillets) or until golden brown. Turn the fillets over and cook on the flesh side for about 1 minute or until the fish is cooked and golden brown.
Serve the warm salad on serving plates, place the sea bass fillets on top, then drizzle the vinaigrette over and around. Garnish with the tempura broad beans and sea purslane. Serve immediately.