Smoked gilthead bream with fennel marmalade

Smoked gilthead bream with fennel marmalade

Fish Kitchen
David Loftus

Bream is a lovely fish to smoke – its flesh has a slight oiliness that makes it ideal. Serving it with a veg marmalade may sound unusual but fennel and orange is a great combination that swims so well with the smoky bream. This recipe would work with any of the bream family and I’ve even done it with a trigger fish!


Quantity Ingredient
2 wild gilthead bream, filleted, skinned and pin-boned
oak chips, for smoking


Quantity Ingredient
100g sea salt
100g caster sugar
40g fennel herb
70ml white wine

Fennel marmalade

Quantity Ingredient
2 white onions, peeled and sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
100ml white wine vinegar
2 thyme sprigs, chopped, leaves only
2 fennel bulbs, outer layer removed
olive oil, for cooking
50g caster sugar
1 orange, finely zested
sea salt

Bitter orange crème fraîche

Quantity Ingredient
200ml full-fat creme fraiche
1 orange, finely zested, plus 1–2 tablespoons of juice
2 teaspoons fennel herb, chopped

To finish

Quantity Ingredient
olive oil, for dressing
fennel herb, to garnish


  1. For the cure, blitz all the ingredients together in a food processor for 1 minute.
  2. Lay the bream fillets on a tray and pour the cure over them. Make sure the fish is evenly coated all over. Cover with cling film and leave to cure in the fridge for 2 hours.
  3. Set up your smoker for cold smoking. Wash off the cure well with cold water and pat the fish dry with kitchen paper. Lay the fish fillets on the smoking rack and smoke for 30 minutes. Remove the fish from the smoker and place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
  4. For the fennel marmalade, put the onions, garlic, wine vinegar and thyme in a small pan over a medium heat until the liquid has reduced right down, taking care to avoid burning the onions.
  5. Meanwhile, slice the fennel thinly. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, add a drizzle of olive oil, then the fennel and sugar and cook for 2 minutes. Now add the onion mixture and simmer until the juice has reduced to almost nothing. Add the orange zest and season with salt to taste. Allow to cool, then place in the fridge to chill.
  6. For the orange crème fraîche, put the crème fraîche into a bowl and whisk in the orange zest and enough juice to loosen it slightly. Whisk in the fennel herb and a little salt to taste.
  7. To serve, slice the bream fairly thinly and lay it on 4 plates. Place a heaped spoonful of fennel marmalade on top and serve the orange crème fraîche on the side. Dress the fish with a little olive oil, garnish with fennel and serve.
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