Has anyone ever told you that nothing in life is simple? Well, they’re wrong. Lots in life is simple. Like this dish. Simplicity itself. It’s one of those beauties that you can kind of throw together, leave in the oven to cook and end up with a really tasty dinner.
And that’s how it should be, because with a few exceptions, you don’t want to mess with fish, particularly white fish. Sure, bream is quite robust, but doing too much to it will dilute and overwhelm the wonderful, delicately meaty flavour and texture.
So, no crazy concoctions, Frankenstein creations or deconstruction please. Hell, don’t even bother with whisking, careful timing or complex cutting. This is just good ingredients, roughly chopped, tossed together and cooked. That’s it. Bish, bash and – as Jamie would say – bosh.
Never the less, this is a flexible and forgiving dish. You can mess around with it to your hearts content. The combo I threw together was based on a mackerel and thyme recipe I found in Hugh’s Fish book. But I didn’t have any mackerel or thyme, so I used bream and oregano, which gave it a Greek feel.
But you could use za’atar (sesame and herb mix) for a North African feel, or maybe rosemary and red mullet for a Corsican touch. Just think gentle aromatics and citrussy flavours. Thinks that back up and add to delicate fishy flesh. Do this and you end up with something fresh and light that’ll leave you feeling great.
The baked bream and lemony new potatoes
Serves two, but is totally scalable
I love dishes like this, they rapidly become a staple because they adapt themselves to your store cupboard so easily. You could use mackerel, bass, trout, any fish that suits baking. You could also use thyme, rosemary or any other herb.
2 bream, cleaned and snipped
500g new potatoes – washed and chopped into bite sized chunks
1 lemon – quartered length ways and chopped into bit sized cghunks
1 tsp (ish) dried oregano
1 onion roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic roughly chopped
3 bay leaves
Turn the oven on to 180oC. Get a roasting tin just big enough to hold the fish and pour in enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Chuck in the potatoes, lemon, onion and garlic and toss in the oil with your hands until everything is slick.
Sprinkle over the oregano, tuck in the bay leaves, season with salt and pepper and put into the hot oven. Cook for 45 minutes, taking the tray out and mixing everything up every 10-15 minutes.
Take it out of the oven, add the fish and a wee glug more olive oil on each of the scaly beauties then put back in the over and cook for another 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your fish.
Serve and eat with something green. I had fried courgettes.