Delicate sea bream with sweet leeks and a savoury spice mix
The combination of za’atar, garlic and almonds goes with so many things, but is especially tasty with delicate bream. Leeks, which have remained stalwart through the winter are at their sweetest now and balance the savoury flavours of the spice mix beautifully.
50g salted butter
5 leeks, trimmed
2 cloves garlic
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
25g flaked almonds
4 sea bream fillets, boned and skin on
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp za’atar
create long ribbons roughly 5mm wide. Add the ribbons to the pan and stir so they are coated in butter. Season with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring regularly, for 15 mins or until the leeks are soft and yielding but not brown. Check the seasoning and adjust as necessary.
While the leeks are cooking, crush the garlic and pop it in a small saucepan with the extra virgin olive oil. Heat very gently on the hob until the oil is warm, then turn the heat off and leave to infuse while you get everything else ready.
Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan and set aside until needed.
Finally, cook the fish. Take a large frying pan and set it over a high heat until it smokes. Drizzle the olive oil over the fish skin and season with salt and pepper. Lay the fish, skin-side down, in the hot pan and give it a shake to prevent sticking. Fry on a high heat until the white of the fish is almost cooked through and the skin is crispy—usually 4-5 mins. Turn the fillets over, switch the heat off and leave the fish to finish cooking in the pan for 1-2 mins.
To assemble everything, pile the buttery leeks onto four plates, sit a fish fillet on top, sprinkle with za’atar and toasted almonds then finish with a drizzle of garlic oil and serve immediately.