April 2004
 
Sea Bass au pastis, braised fennels (serves 4)
by Ian Wood

Ian Wood has been the head chef at Islington's acclaimed Almeida restaurant, situated opposite the Almeida theatre, since its launch in December 2001. Prior to this Ian worked as the senior sous chef at Mosimann's, during which he spent time across Europe in St Moritz and Switzerland. Ian also worked as sous chef at Marylebone's Michelin starred Orrery restaurant for three years under the direction of Chris Galvin.

Ian has a passion for traditional and regional French food, and this enthusiasm is further highlighted by regular discovery evenings held at Almeida. These include wine dinners and regular cookery courses in the restaurant's spacious kitchens, where the public can learn about different styles of regional French food and wine.

Ingredients:
4 sea bass of 450gr each
salt and pepper
flour
200gr butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Braised fennel:
2 fennel bulbs
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 litre chicken stock
salt and pepper

Sauce au pastis:
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 star anise
fennel stems
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
salt and pepper
250ml white wine
250ml fish stock
50ml pastis
200ml cream
1/2 bunch of chopped dill

Finish:
50ml pastis
 
Method
Braised fennel:

Cut each fennel in half and each half into four pieces.
Chargrill the fennel on each side so that you are left with nice grill marks.
Transfer to an oven dish and add the chicken stock, salt and pepper.  Cover the dish and cook for 45 minutes at 180ºC.
 
Sauce au pastis:
In a pan melt the butter and vegetable oil, then add shallots, fennel and star anise, and sweat for a few minutes.
Add the white wine, reduce to half and then add the fish stock.
Leave it on the heat to reduce.
Once it has reduced to nearly nothing, heat the pastis in a separate pan, flame it and add it to the sauce.
Add the cream and reduce to sauce consistency.
Strain the sauce and reserve on the side. Add the chopped dill just before serving.
 
Sea bass:
Clean the fish and dry the skin.
Heat the butter and vegetable oil in a frying pan.
Season the bass, flour the skin and cook for three to four minutes on both sides.
Transfer carefully to an oven dish and cook in the oven for three minute on one side and four minute on the other one at 180ºC.
 
Finish:
Serve the fennel on the base, the seabass on top and the sauce around with the dill.
Finally, heat the 50ml of pastis, flame it and pour carefully over the bass as you serve.
 
Bon appétit!

 

 

Shane Osborn