Recipe: Sean Hope’s fillet of sea bass in bouillabaisse sauce

Published on March 3, 2014

By Sean Hope, head chef and patron at The Olive Branch

I cooked the recipe below during my recent winter cookery demonstrations at The Olive Branch and Red Lion Inn. It’s a beautiful dish that, for me, provides a much-needed splash of colour during English winter’s dreary last couple of months. The bouillabaisse sauce is incredibly vibrant and is a good one to have in your armoury because it can be used to accompany a number of fish and seafood main courses. Also, don’t feel obliged to stick to sea bass – you could try turbot, red mullet, gurnard or cod loin – virtually any fresh fish in fact. I recommend you treat this dish as a reminder of summer holidays – try cooking it and letting your mind drift towards those sunny coastal breaks in the Mediterranean. Serve with herb mash and braised fennel.


Pan-seared fillet of sea bass in bouillabaisse sauce

Serves 4

4 x 150g pieces of filleted boneless wild sea bass
Sprig rosemary
Rapeseed oil
Knob of butter
1 lemon wedge
1 orange wedge

1. Heat up a frying pan and add a drizzle of rapeseed oil.
2. Score the skin side of the fish with a sharp knife.
3. Lay the fish into the pan with the rosemary and sear for around two minutes.
4. Add the butter, season with salt and pepper.
5. Flip over the fish and cook for a further three minutes.
6. Squeeze the lemon and orange wedges over the fish and allow to rest for four minutes before serving.

For the bouillabaisse sauce

1 onion, roughly chopped
1 stick celery, roughly chopped
Zest of two oranges
2 plum vine tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 sachet of saffron powder
1 tsp tomato paste
1 sprig rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 cardamom pods
1 small measure brandy
500ml fish stock

1. Place a large saucepan on the heat and add a drizzle of rapeseed oil.
2. Add the onion, garlic and celery and fry until golden brown.
3. Add the chopped tomatoes, orange zest, spices, herbs and tomato paste.
4. Cook out to a soft pulp to release all the flavours, add the vinegar and reduce completely.
5. Add the fish stock and bring to the boil.
6. Simmer for 25 minutes before removing and cooling slightly.
7. Place in a blender and pulse for 12 seconds to release more flavour.
8. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve, finish with brandy and season to taste. Reheat gently and serve with the fish.

Sean Hope during one of his cookery demonstrations


Sean Hope is head chef and owner of The Olive Branch and Red Lion Inn – both members of the Great Food Club network.

The author:

Matt lives in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. He is passionate about the independent food & drink sector and founded Great Food Club in 2010 after being inspired by local producers near his home town.