I wish it were possible to transmit an aroma over the internet. The smells than come from this dish are just incredible.
RECIPE – feeds 2
2 small sea bass – about 300g each
1 heaped tsp fennel seeds
1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
1 heaped tsp brown mustard seeds
1 heaped tsp ground turmeric
2 fennel bulbs, very finely sliced
2 red chillies, very finely sliced
the juice of a lemon, plus 1 lemon, sliced, plus wedges to serve
a small handful of fresh coriander, chopped, to serve
Prepare the fish: remove the scales and gills, and gut the fish; your fishmonger will be happy to do this for you, you only have to ask.
Heat the oven to 200C/ 180C fan/ gas 6.
Mix the spices together in a small bowl and prepare the remainder of the ingredients.
Cut two large lengths of foil, drizzle a little olive oil in the middle of each and spread it around with your fingers. Scatter the thinly sliced fennel over the oiled section, mounding it up so it is roughly the shape and size of your fish. Sprinkle most of the sliced chillies over the fennel, followed by roughly a third of the spice mix. Season with salt and pepper.
Now lay the fish on top of the fennel and work the remaining spice mix into the cavity of the fish and all over its skin, using your fingers. Stuff the cavity of each fish with the sliced lemon, ensuring it is filled from end to end. Drizzle with a little olive oil, and generously with lemon juice.
Fold the sides of the foil up and over the fish, and roll the sides together. Do the same with the ends, ensuring that you end up with a sealed foil package.
Place the two fish parcels on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven, remove everything from the foil and serve on a bed of red rice, noodles, or toasted bulghur wheat (pictured). This also goes well with fennel chips.
Scatter with coriander and serve alongside a simple green salad.