less than 30 mins
10 to 30 mins
- 2 x 200g/7oz thick sea bass fillets
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs
- 200g/7oz–300g/10½oz cockles
- 125ml/4fl oz vermouth
- 1 lemon, juice only
- 50ml/1¾fl oz whole milk
- 75g/2½oz plain flour
- 75g/2½oz semolina flour
- 200g/7oz butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for frying
- selection of sea vegetables (aster, purslane, penny wort)
- selection of baby vegetables (courgettes, leeks, asparagus)
- 1 tbsp fresh chervil, finely chopped, to serve
- 1 tbsp chives, finely chopped, to serve
Place the sea bass in a steamer and cook for 6–8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, lidded saucepan over a medium heat. Add the shallot, garlic and thyme and cook for 1–2 minutes. Add the cockles and wine, cover and cook for 2–3 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the cockles, discarding the shells.
Preheat a deep-fat fryer to 180C. (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.) Dust the cockle meat first in the plain flour and then the semolina flour and deep fry for 1–2 minutes. Drain on kitchen paper.
Bring the cooking liquor to the boil and allow to bubble until the volume of the liquid has reduced by a third. Gradually add the butter, whisking all the time, until you have a thick, glossy sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
Melt a little butter in a sauté pan and cook the sea vegetables and baby vegetables for 5 minutes.
To serve, place the steamed sea bass onto a serving plate. Top with the vegetables and, scatter over the popcorn cockles and herbs and drizzle over the sauce.