Roasted sea bream with oyster stuffing and fennel hollandaise

Roasted sea bream with oyster stuffing and fennel hollandaise

Mark Hix On Baking
Jason Lowe

Oyster stuffing is an American idea – they use it to stuff turkey for Thanksgiving while in New Orleans they enjoy it all year round with a variety of birds. Ask your fishmonger to bone the bream from the belly, leaving it attached at the backbone so it ends up looking a bit like a kipper. The head can be left on or removed depending on how squeamish your guests are.


Quantity Ingredient
1 x 2-2.5kg sea bream, scaled, gutted and boned
freshly ground white pepper
olive oil, for brushing

For the stuffing

Quantity Ingredient
2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
100g butter
200g fresh white breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons dill, chopped
10 large oysters, opened and chopped with the juices reserved

For the fennel hollandaise

Quantity Ingredient
215g unsalted butter
1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
40ml white wine vinegar
40ml water
1 small shallot, peeled and chopped
a few sprigs tarragon
1 bay leaf
5 peppercorns
3 small egg yolks
100ml double cream, whipped


  1. Preheat the oven to 240°C. Gently cook the onions in the butter for 4–5 minutes until soft , but not coloured. Transfer them to a bowl, mix with the breadcrumbs, parsley, dill, oysters and juices and season to taste.
  2. Open the sea bream flat onto a table and spread the stuffing mixture evenly down the middle of one fillet. Fold the other fillet over and shape it so the fish looks whole. Score the skin at 3 cm intervals along the top, season with salt and pepper and rub with oil. Transfer to an oiled baking tray and roast in the oven for 45 minutes, basting with oil a few times during cooking.
  3. Meantime, make the hollandaise. Melt 15 g of the butter in a thick-bottomed saucepan, add the fennel, season and gently cook with a lid on for about 10 minutes, until soft. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. At the same time, place the white wine vinegar, water, shallot, herbs and peppercorns in a saucepan. Bring to the boil and cook for a few minutes until the liquid has reduced to around a dessertspoonful in volume. Sieve and leave to cool.
  4. Melt the remaining butter in a pan and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, leave to cool a little, then pour off the clarified butter where it has separated from the whey. Put the egg yolks into a bowl with half the vinegar reduction and whisk over a pan of gently simmering water until the mixture begins to thicken and become frothy. Slowly trickle in the clarified butter, whisking continuously. Taste, then add enough of the remaining vinegar reduction to cut through the oiliness of the butter. Season, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place until needed.
  5. Remove the fish from the oven and arrange on a serving platter. Fold the cooked fennel and whipped cream into the hollandaise and serve with the fish and some simply cooked green vegetables.
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