Sea Bream with Fennel & Potatoes


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Limoncello and Linen Water

Limoncello and Linen Water

By Tessa Kiros

Published 2012

  • About

The fennel here is a beauty. For the sea bream, I like them rounded and small. When I buy fish in Italy they always ask if I want it cleaned for grilling or oven roasting. I like this, that they bother to ask how you will be cooking your fish. I often ask them how to cook it, and for the recipe! Any small whole fish is of course suitable.


  • 550 g (1 lb 4 oz) potatoes, washed
  • 2 tablespoons or so fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled, 1 chopped and 2 whole
  • 2 small sea bream (orata), about 350 g (12 oz) each, gutted and scaled for oven roasting
  • 2 clumps of parsley, with stalks
  • a little coarse salt
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra, for serving
  • 2 tablespoons grated mature pecorino (or parmesan)
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) white wine


Cook the potatoes in their skins in boiling salted water until they are soft all the way through, but not falling apart. Drain and when cool enough to handle, peel them. Slice into rounds of about 1 cm (½ inch).

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Chop up the fennel seeds, so that some are coarse and some dust. Use a pestle and mortar if you prefer. Keep aside. On a small plate mix the chopped parsley and chopped garlic.

Rinse the fish and wipe with paper towels. Into the cavity of each put a whole garlic clove, a clump of parsley and a sprinkling of coarse salt. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil into an oven dish that will hold the fish fairly compactly. Lay the potatoes over the oil. Scatter a tablespoon of the garlic parsley, a tablespoon of the pecorino and a tablespoon of the fennel over. Salt and pepper the outside of each fish, then lay them on top. Scatter the rest of the garlic parsley, pecorino and fennel over. Drizzle the last 2 tablespoons of oil over and pour the wine around too. Roast, uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until the fish are roasty looking on top and when you pierce one in the very middle with a knife it comes out hot.

Serve the potatoes with the fish, and a plate on the side to fillet the fish on. Drizzle a little olive oil over the fish on your plate and give a grinding of black pepper.