Saturday, 2 May 2015

Lemon and Basil Griddled Sea Bream

Tonight my eldest asked me what was for dinner then sighed immediately, saying "let me guess.... rice, am I right?"

She would have been right, as I had been to the fishmonger in the morning and bought a sea bream, intending to steam it with dried lily flowers, cloud ear fungus and soy sauce, but following this little exchange, I decided to indulge her.

I remember many years ago going to a restaurant called Lemonia with my big sister, where we sat close to Bob Hoskins. We had a lovely dish of griddled sardines, fragrant with lemons and olive oil and I wanted to try and replicate this. In fact, I think there are few things in life nicer than tucking into a big plate of really fresh, griddled fish with a big wedge of lemon, some decent company and preferably a sea view.

We ended up sharing this dish of griddled sea bream, some slow-cooked chick peas with chorizo and tomato and garlic and rosemary roasted potatoes. The eldest made pizza using this Cook Italian pizza kit from Tesco, which was better than I had expected it to be!

Last year on our holiday to Tuscany, I visited a local producer (Novo Frantoio) and horrified my husband by returning with a 3 litre can of olive oil (I had packed light intentionally). Here it is:

Ridiculously tasty olive oil
Words cannot even begin to describe how delicious and beautiful this oil is! I am already starting to worry what I will do when it runs out!


  • 1 sea bream, gutted and scaled
  • 1/2 lemon, cut into slices
  • Grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh basil
  • Plenty of extra virgin olive oil
Serves 1, or can be shared as part of a bigger meal


  • Wash the bream and pat dry with kitchen towels. Using a sharp knife, slash each side three times, taking care not to cut through the bone
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper inside the cavity of the fish, then stuff with 3-4 slices of lemon and 2-3 sprigs of fresh basil leaves
  • Place the fish in a dish and pour over extra virgin olive oil to coat the fish. Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper on each side, then leave in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to marinate if you have time
  • Heat a griddle or frying pan until very hot. Remove the fish from the fridge and sprinkle salt over both sides, before adding to the griddle. Using a spatula, press down on the fish periodically and griddle for 6-7 minutes on one side

  • Carefully lift the fish with a spatula (I use two) and turn over. Griddle on a high heat for a further 6-7 minutes, or until the flesh turns opaque throughout
  • Remove the fish from the heat and place on a warmed serving dish. Add the freshly grated lemon zest to the fish and pour the oil from the pan over the fish. Add a little fresh olive oil, then garnish with a few fresh basil leaves
  • Serve immediately

Lemon and Basil Griddled Sea Bream

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