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Coffee-rubbed sea bass

James Whetlor

Barbecued, coffee-rubbed fish fillets with an ancho mayonnaise

Recipe Meta


20 mins


10 mins






  • 800g sea bass fillets (or sea bream), or use a whole fish

For the rub

  • 2 tsp ground coffee
  • 1-2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp ancho chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

For the ancho mayonnaise

  • 1 ancho chilli, stem and seeds removed (or 1-2 tsp chilli powder)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp lime juice or vinegar
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
  • 150ml olive oil


In a bowl, mix all the ingredients for the rub together, then rub all over the fish until thoroughly coated.

While the barbecue is heating up, make the ancho mayonnaise. Lightly toast the chilli (if using whole) in a dry frying pan over the barbecue for a couple of minutes on each side, then cover with boiling water for 5 mins. Drain and reserve the soaking liquid. In a blender, place the soaked chilli, along with all the other ingredients except the oil, and blend while slowly drizzling in the oil. Add a little of the chilli soaking liquid to thin it out if required, then season to taste.

Place the fish in a fish cage or basket and grill for 5-8 minutes until the flesh is just cooked through and flakes when you pull it apart (it depends on the thickness of the fish and the heat of the grill so keep an eye on it).

Serve the fish in tacos or flatbreads with the ancho mayonnaise, avocado and a wedge of lime.

Image: Sam Folan

Recipe from The DIY BBQ Cookbook by James Whetlor (Quadrille)

To serve

  • Tortillas
  • 1-2 avocados, thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges