1royal or gilt-head sea-bream of 800g-1kg (1¾ –2¼lb)
6generous tablespoons olive oil
5bayleaves, preferably fresh
Preheat the oven to 250°C/500°F/Mark 10. If possible, have the bream gutted and scaled by your fishmonger. Cut 3 bayleaves into eight little triangles (twenty-four in all). Salt and pepper the fish lavishly, inside and out. Then, without piercing the flesh beneath, make twelve horizontal incisions in the skin on each side with a small sharp knife, and slide a triangle of bayleaf into each. Then massage the fish with your fingertips, from head to tail, to help the flavours to permeate the flesh. Finally place 2 bayleaves inside the fish. Sprinkle with olive oil – 1tablespoon for each side – and rub the oil in thoroughly with your hands or with a pastry-brush. Half fill a roasting-tin with hot water and place the bream on a wire rack in the tin.
Place the roasting tin in the oven and bake the fish for 15 minutes on one side and 10 on the other. This time may vary slightly according to the size of the fish. You can test whether the fish is cooked by sliding the point of a knife into the spine, just behind the head. If the flesh comes away from the bone cleanly and easily, the fish is done.
While the bream is cooking, peel the oranges and lemons with a very sharp knife, taking care to remove every trace of white pith. Hold the fruit over a small saucepan to catch the juices, and separate the quarters, removing the inner skins.
Add the peeled segments to the juices in the saucepan and add 3 generous tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and heat through before serving. Be careful not to let the fruit get too hot, or it will disintegrate.
Serve the fish on a long dish, and the fruit in a sauceboat.