Sea bass makes an impressive meal, and its delicious flesh is moist, tender and sweet. Here it's stuffed with an exotic Moroccan-style fresh herb and spice mixture called chermoula, then braised on a bed of vegetables.
1 whole sea bass, salmon, jewfish or firm white fish (about 1 kg), cleaned
4 garlic cloves
1 small red chilli, seeded
40 g fresh coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
1 lemon, juiced
175 g thin green beans, halved
600 g floury potatoes, peeled
2 spring onions, finely chopped
250 g grape or cherry tomatoes
⅓ cup (50 g) pitted black olives
300 ml diluted or homemade fish stock, hot
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Cut about six deep, diagonal slashes in the flesh on each side of the fish. Place it in a wide, non-metallic dish.
Put the garlic, chilli, coriander, paprika, cumin, oil and lemon juice in a food processor and process until blended and finely chopped. Season to taste. Spread about half of the chermoula inside the fish and into the slashes. Cover the fish and the remaining chermoula, and leave in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to marinate.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Drop the beans into a saucepan of boiling water and blanch for 1 minute, then drain and refresh in cold water. Thinly slice the potatoes and spread in a shallow layer with the spring onions in a wide, deep ovenproof dish. Scatter the beans, tomatoes and olives over the top.
Pour the stock over the vegetables and place the fish on top. Cover with foil and cook in the oven for 40–50 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
Serve the whole fish with the vegetables on a platter, with the reserved chermoula as a sauce.
If you prefer, use 4 small fish, about 300 g each, or 4 fillets, about 175 g each. Cook the vegetables on their own for 30 minutes, then arrange the whole fish or fillets on top and cook for a further 20 minutes or until the fish flakes easily.