2 kg fresh, Greek aquaculture seabream or seabass or pagrus
3 courgettes, sliced lengthwise
1 onion cut into four
3 carrots, sliced lengthwise
2-3 parsley stems
100 ml white wine
150 ml olive oil
Salt & pepper
1. Pre-heat oven to 200oC. Slice the courgettes and carrots lengthwise and cut the onion into quarters. Cutting the vegetables this way helps them absorb liquids while baking, making them tastier.
2. Season the fish with salt and pepper over its skin and in its belly, tucking in the parsley stems.
3. Place the fish in a baking dish surrounding it with the vegetables and add first the wine and then the olive oil. Place the dish in the pre-heated oven. Resist the temptation to open the oven, do not turn the fish over, leave it alone until it is time to bring it out!
4. You can either apply the empirical method to decide on the appropriate cooking time – minutes per unit of weight – or the more accurate method of testing the fish’s temperature by inserting a cooking thermometer into the center of its back, close to the central fishbone: the temperature must be over 55oC but not over 65oC because at that point the flesh starts drying up and becoming firmer.
If you are using the empirical method, keep in mind that each oven is different and there are serious discrepancies between the temperature shown on the dials and the actual temperature inside the oven, which means that our estimated times may not be accurate in the case of your own oven. In any case, the differences will not be that great; after the first time you will know whether you took it out a few minutes to early or whether you should have taken it out a few minutes earlier!
Empirical Baking Times
For fish that are fairly flat, such as Greek aquaculture seabass, seabream and pagrus, the estimated cooking time is 30’ per kilo of fish and an extra 5’ for each 500gr thereafter.
With the oven pre-heated to 200oC, estimate the following times: 1 kg. for 30’, 1.5 kg → 35’, 2 kg. → 40’ and 2.5kg → 45’.
5. Remove the fish from the oven and carefully transfer to a serving platter. Surround the fish with the vegetables or, even better, serve the vegetables in a separate dish so that you have enough room on the platter to cut open the baked fish and remove the basic bones.
The three alternatives I propose are: a. classic Greek “ladolemono” (olive oil and lemon juice beaten in a mixer till it thickens into a yummy dressing) b. homemade mayonnaise and c. homemade tartar sauce. In addition to the vegetables that accompany the fish, they would also go well with hot, bitter or wild greens. The fish has such delicate flavors that it does not take much to enjoy it.