Quick Recipes and Easy

Classic Dishes of Provence – Sea Bass with Fennel

Loup de Mer au Fenouil
(Sea Bass baked with Fennel)

This is certainly one of the fantastic classic dishes of Provence: a whole sea bass baked in the oven with fennel and garlic and then (if you like the thought) flamed in pastis just before serving.

You could, of course, use fillets of sea bass for ease of cooking and serving – but the whole fish is the more authentic version.

Ingredients (for 2 servings):

1 x 450g to 600g prepared sea bass;

1 tablespoon olive oil;
1 large bulb fresh fennel;
1 large onion;
1 clove garlic;
30ml pastis;
salt and freshly ground black pepper;
lemon wedges (optional).


Preheat the oven to 220C/ 425F/ Gas Mark 7.

Make sure your fish has been gutted and de-scaled. Leave the head on, unless you really can’t face it.

Rub the fish inside and out with olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Peel and finely slice the onion. Peel and crush the garlic. Remove any hard or discoloured leaves from the fennel and cut into fine slices.

Heat the olive oil in a large shallow ovenproof baking dish over a moderate heat and sweat the onion, garlic and fennel for about 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Remove half of the vegetables.

Place the sea bass on top of the onion, garlic and fennel remaining in the pan. Cover the fish with the rest of the vegetables. Pour over the pastis.

Cover with lightly oiled foil and place in the preheated oven.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Take the pan from the oven, remove the foil.

Place back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.

Before serving, check that the flesh of the sea bass is opaque and flakes easily from the bone.

Serve the sea bass on a large platter with the vegetables and juices poured over and around the fish. Decorate with lemon wedges, if you like, although personally I find that the taste of lemon detracts from the full natural flavour of the fish itself. But, then again, perhaps that’s just me!

You could flamber the sea bass in extra pastis just before you bring it to the table – or, if you wanted to be really flash, at the table itself!

For more information on the food, wine, restaurants and recipes of Provence – and more free recipes! – check out the author’s web site at: cafe-de-provence.com cafe-de-provence.com

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