Pan-seared Sea Bass with Fennel Puree & Confit, Spiced Lentils & Bouillabaisse Sauce

This pan-seared sea bass with fennel puree, fennel confit, spiced lentils and bouillabaisse sauce recipe and Aubergine Puree recipe is from the cookbook “New Irish cooking” by Conrad Gallagher. Delicate flavours of sea bass retain their subtlety alongside interesting flavours of lentils and bouillabaisse, with saffron aioli as a garnish.


Fillets of sea bass skin on – 4 x 120 grams

Spinach leaves – 12 large

200g spiced lentils – 200 grams

Balsamic vinegar – 1 tbsp

Roasted pepper, cut into strips – ½

Spring onions finely chopped – 2

Basil mashed potatoes – 100 grams

Confit of fennel recipe – 1

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil – 1 tbsp

Butter – 5 grams

Rosemary – 4 sprigs

Madeira – 2 tbsp

Chicken stock – 60 ml

Bouillabaisse sauce – 200 ml

Fennel puree – 100 ml


Chive oil – 60 ml

Tomato oil – 60ml

Saffron aioli – 40ml

Chervil – 12 sprigs

Aubergine Puree

Aubergines – 2

Garlic peeled and sliced – 1 clove

Thyme – 2 sprigs

Fennel seeds – 1 tsp

Olive oil – 100 ml

Salt and freshly ground white pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/400F/gas mark 6.
  2. Run your fingers against the grain of the sea bass and remove any fine bones with tweezers. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate until ready to cook.
  3. Using a sharp knife, remove the coarse stalks from the spinach leaves, but try to keep the leaves whole.
  4. Dip the leaves into boiling water for about 10 seconds, then remove and pat dry on kitchen paper or a clean tea towel.
  5. Place 4 rings or pastry cutters on a baking tray and line them with the spinach leaves. Heat the spiced lentils in a small saucepan.
  6. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook over a medium heat until the mixture is quite dry.
  7. Add the roasted pepper, spring onion and chives, and mix well. Remove from the heat and use half of the lentil mixture to line the base of each spinach parcel.
  8. Top with basil mashed potato and some fennel confit. Cut away any excess spinach hanging over the edge of the rings. Heat the parcels in the oven while you cook the fish.
  9. Season the sea bass with salt and pepper.
  10. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, and cook the fillets skin side down, for 1 ½ minute. Turn the fish over and add the butter, rosemary, Madeira and chicken stock.
  11. Baste with the cooking liquor and finish cooking in the oven for 3-5 minutes or until the flesh is firm to the touch.
  12. In separate saucepans, reheat the remaining lentil mixture, the bouillabaisse sauce and the fennel puree.

Aubergine Puree

  1. Preheat oven to 140 degrees Celsius/275F/gas mark 1.
  2. Cut the aubergine in half lengthways.
  3. Make the criss-cross cuts in the flesh, but do not cut through the skin. Insert the garlic, thyme and fennel seeds into the cuts.
  4. Place the aubergine on a sheet of tinfoil.
  5. Drizzle with half the oil and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Loosely wrap the tinfoil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the aubergine from the oven and unwrap (be careful of steam escaping).
  7. When the aubergine is cool enough to handle, discard the thyme.
  8. Scoop out the flesh and blend thoroughly adding the remaining olive oil until you have a firm, not runny consistency. Adjust the seasoning.
  9. Serve warm or allow to cool and reheat in a saucepan with some extra olive oil.

To serve

  1. Spoon some fennel puree around the center of each plate. Leave a small gap and spoon some bouillabaisse sauce around the puree.
  2. Place a spinach parcel on the center of each plate and gently remove the rings. Top with the sea bass and garnish with the chive oil, aioli, and chervil. Serve immediately.
  3. The recipe serves 4 people.

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