Pan Fried Fillet of Sea Bream with Ratatouille and Tomato Coulis

Recipe from Foolproof French Cookery by Raymond Blanc.

All the clean, fresh flavours of Provence can be found in this fragrant dish. The obvious time to eat this dish is the summer, when the tomatoes are fat and bursting with juices and sweetness and all the vegetables are local and packed with flavours. The Ratatouille can be prepared one day in advance and the tomato coulis a few hours in advance.

FFC Pan Fried Fillet Of Sea Bream Thumb

Ingredients Required

For the ratatouille
4 tbsp Olive oil
2 Onion, medium/large diced 2cm
4 sprigs Fresh thyme
4 cloves Garlic cloves, crushed
2 Red pepper, large, de-seeded and chopped 2cm
2 Courgette, large, cut in half lengthways and chopped 2 cm
1 Aubergine, medium, halved lengthways and chopped 2cm
2 tbsp Tomato puree
4 Plum Tomatoes, halved, quartered and chopped
8 pinches Sea salt
4 pinches Freshly ground, black pepper
For the tomato coulis
200g Cherry tomatoes (very ripe)
2 pinches Sea salt
2 pinches Sugar (optional)
1 pinch Pepper
2 tbsp Olive oil, extra virgin
2 pinches Sugar if tomatoes are not ripe enough
For the sea bream
1 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
4 Sea bream fillets, descaled and boned, skin slashed to allow the heat to permeate more easily
4 pinches Sea salt
2 pinches Freshly ground, black pepper
1/2 Lemon, for squeezing

Cooking Method

Making the ratatouille

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. On a medium heat, in a large saucepan, soften the onions and thyme in the olive oil for 3-4 minutes, without letting them colour. Add the garlic, red peppers, courgettes, aubergine, 8 pinches of salt and 4 pinches of pepper and cook for 2 minutes longer. Stir in the tomato purée and chopped tomatoes.  Cook over a medium heat, with a lid on, for 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary, then set aside.

Making the tomato coulis

In a blender, or with a hand-held blender, purée the cherry tomatoes with the extra-virgin olive oil, 2 pinches of salt and a pinch of pepper. Taste and add the sugar if necessary, then strain and set aside.

Frying the sea bream

Slash each fillet 3 times with a sharp knife (this allows the heat to penetrate more easily). Season with 4 pinches of salt and 2 of pepper. Over a high heat, in a large, oven-proof frying pan, heat the oil.  Sear the fillets on the flesh side for 30-40 seconds in the hot olive oil. Turn the fillets over and cook for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to the oven and cook for 2-3 minutes longer, depending on thickness. Taste and correct the seasoning, if necessary, then sprinkle the lemon juice over the fillets.

Finishing the dish

Reheat the ratatouille and gently warm the tomato coulis, making sure it does not boil (if it did it would become grainy and lose all its freshness). Arrange the ratatouille in the middle of 4 soup plates and top with the sea bream fillets. Spoon the tomato coulis around and then drizzle with the best extra-virgin olive oil.


 Foolproof French Cookery

Recipe from Foolproof French Cookery by Raymond Blanc, published by BBC Books.

Recipe © Raymond Blanc 2002.

Photograph © Jean Cazals 2002.