Goodness do you feel that heat?
If you live around these parts I am sure you do. Summer, once again, is making its presence felt, and felt in that very special way only equatorial/tropical summers can be felt – temperature shooting up mercilessly, rivulets of sweat dripping down your back, the outdoors feeling like one big life-squelching turbo broiler, pavements hot enough to fry an egg, and even the most minimal physical activity feeling like a herculean undertaking.
But summers here bring with it wonderful promise as well – planning beach trips, endlessly blue skies, icy cocktails and pool parties, lazing with friends around the barbecue, and over 7,000 islands to explore (which technically we can do almost any time of the year…not to brag!). And even if we have jobs, and no longer enjoy the glorious blessing (and distant memory) that is a summer vacation, we still feel, even a little bit, something of its celebratory mood.
Back to real life though, at least for those of us that live in the city. Most days are spent indoors, working, trying to budget our skyrocketing use of air-conditioning, sweat on our brow just from a quick foray to grab milk money from the atm across the street. Summer in the city is a wringer, the tall monoliths of concrete and glass making sure the unbearable heat continues to press on us like some molten Iron Maiden, while the dust and exhaust from uncountable cars and construction seem to have an even stronger chokehold.
And not a good time to be slaving away for hours over a hot stove. Not that I ever follow my own advice: summer can sometimes find me melting into a pool of sweat in the kitchen the same time as my beef stew bubbles on the hob. By the end of the day we (me and the stew) have both been reduced to a soft, lethargic mass.
But, that doesn’t mean you have to. This is a fantastically simple recipe that takes hardly any effort. Yes, you need to fire up your oven, but only for a bit, and the preparation is a snap.
So Simple Roasted Sea Bass
- 2 large skin-on sea bass (apahap) fillets
- 3 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
- 3 medium tomatoes (about 350 grams total), sliced
- 4 small red onions, sliced
- Olive oil, quite a generous amount, about 1/4 cup or more
- Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
– Place the potato slices in a pot filled with water, season with salt, and then bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are tender. You don’t have to hang around the hot kitchen while this happens. Drain.
– In a baking pan that will fit both fillets flat lay the cooked potato slices in one layer. Lay half the tomatoes and onions over the potatoes. Lay the fish fillets over the vegetables, skin side down. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Top with the remaining tomatoes and onions. Add a bit more salt and pepper over this and drizzle the whole lot with olive oil…get it in all the nooks and crannies.
– Place your pan in a pre-heated 375F oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until fish is just cooked through.
You can make this using any fish fillet you like here. Or, in truth, almost any fish you like, fillet or not (just adjust your cooking time!). The original dish from which this takes inspiration used a whole fish. I first had this in Barcelona, at my cousin’s home. Her stepmother had bought a whole merluza (hake I believe) at the market and the fishmonger told her to prepare it this way. It is unbelievably easy to make, a perfect one-pan meal. The fish tastes light and fresh and you’ve already got both your sides and your starch in the same pan. The perfect summer meal when you don’t want to spend too much time in a hot kitchen (or too much time washing up…although that’s usually not just reserved for the summer).
Obviously, this dish being so simple, it can be taken in many different directions. I kind of like it like this though…unfussy, straightforward, and a great way to celebrate fish. And summer too I guess!
Hope you are keeping cool wherever you are! Happy summer!
P.S. I am off to Tokyo this weekend! Yes!! A girls trip of sorts (a little girls trip to be exact)…my best friend’s daughter wanted to take a trip with my daughter for her birthday (instead of a party). So there you have it…little girls gone wild in Tokyo…wait for it!! 😉 I’ll be back for the Easter break/Holy Week!