Whole stuffed roast fish with fennel

This is inspired by the cooking of Sicily, where the aromatic spices and dried fruit of Arabian cuisine meet with the fresh fish and vegetables of the Med.

·         Serves 4 

·         Prep 15 mins 

·         Cook 50 mins


·         2 fennel bulbs, halved and finely sliced

·         1 large onion, halved and finely sliced 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra  for drizzling

·         2 lemons, 1 zested then juiced, 1 cut into wedges

·         200g/7oz couscous

·         Pinch of saffron threads 250ml/9fl oz chicken or vegetable

·         Stock 2 larger or 4 smaller whole fish, cleaned and scaled (I used Anglesey sea bass)

·         Small pack dill, finely chopped 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts

·         250g/9oz baby plum or small tomatoes, halved

·         1 tbsp currants

Description: Anglesey sea bass

Anglesey sea bass


1.    Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Put the fennel and onion in a large roasting tin and toss with 2 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp lemon juice and plenty of seasoning. Roast for 20 mins until almost tender and starting to caramelise. Meanwhile, put the couscous in a medium bowl. Mix the saffron and hot stock, pour over the couscous and cover with cling film.

2.    Rinse the fish with cold water inside and out, then pat dry. Slash deeply on both sides and season with salt, pepper and a pinch of the lemon zest. After 10 mins soaking, fluff up the couscous with a fork and add 2 tbsp lemon juice, the remaining zest, the dill, 1 tbsp pine nuts and seasoning to taste. Stuff the couscous into the cavity of each fish, reserving any leftover couscous for later.

3.    Stir the tomatoes and currants into the tin. Sit the fish on top and roast for about 30 mins, depending on its size. Look for juices running from the slashes in the flesh. Tug gently on the back fin – if it comes away easily, the fish is cooked.

4.    Scatter with the rest of the pine nuts, then serve from the tin, with lemon wedges for squeezing over. Serve one stuffed fish per person, or if you have cooked large fish, gently lift the fillets from the top of the fish first, then turn over and repeat. Share out the couscous stuffing and leftover couscous.

Per serving 489 Kcals, Protein 36g, Carbs 45g, Fat 18g, Sat Fat 2g, Fiber 9g, Sugar 11g, Salt 0.5g

Description: Whole stuffed roast fish with fennel

Whole stuffed roast fish with fennel

Preparing a whole round fish

This is a messy job – however, it’s easier than you think. Cut along the belly, from the small vent near the tail, up to under the head. Scrape out all the guts using a spoon, then scrape along the ‘blood line,’ which lies at the top of the cavity.

Open the gills and snip them out with scissors from each end (if you have ever applied false eyelashes, this will be horribly familiar).

Rinse the fish to remove all traces of blood. Put the fish in a plastic carrier bag, then scrape the scales away using the back of a large knife, going from tail to head. The scales will ping from the body and go into the bag, rather than all over the kitchen. Rinse the fish again, snip off all the fins except for the dorsal (back), then you’re ready to go.

Description: This is a messy job – however, it’s easier than you think

This is a messy job – however, it’s easier than you think

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