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  • Bute St Seafoodie

Poached Fillet of Sea Bass with Broad Beans and Dill Mayonnaise

Updated: Jan 16, 2021

"Summer bachelors like summer breezes, are never as cool as they pretend to be."

Nora Ephron (1965)

When I came up with this dish, I had one thing in mind: "British summer on a plate". Poached sea trout is the absolute quintessential British summer fish dish and quite deliciously so. It's also the time of year when broad beans are rife to the point of overabundance. However, we don't get sea trout on the market stall any more - we used to, but something happened!

White fish also poaches very well - flatties such as brill and dover sole, and round fish such as cod and hake and, here, sea bass. And the fact that our line-caught sea bass are a fine feature of our summer led me to think that a plate of poached sea bass would be a very celebratory way to lunch at this time of year.

The dill mayonnaise is actually a dill and lime mayonnaise in that the zest of a lime is incorporated to introduce some tartness which is always well received by a piece of fish. Similarly, the broad beans are helped along by being lightly crushed with some peas, another iconic ingredient of a British summer dish. Some samphire is an ideal garnish for the fish and some simply boiled potatoes are a good final addition to create a complete summer on a plate.

You don't need to scale the sea bass for this preparation because the skin will be removed after cooking and the scales will come away with it. Equally, provided the court bouillon is gently simmering and not boiling during the cooking time, there is a reasonable margin of error in terms of not over-cooking the fish.

Poached Fillet of Sea Bass with Broad Beans and Dill Mayonnaise

Ingredients (Serves 2)

2 x 175-200g fillets of sea bass, skin on

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lemon wedges, to serve

Broad bean and pea crush, to serve (see Note)

Dill and lime mayonnaise (for 2 servings):

3 tbsp best mayonnaise (ideally home-made - see Note for a recipe of Michel Roux's)

1 tbsp finely chopped dill leaves

1½-2 tsp finely grated lime zest (approximately the zest from half a large lime)

Lime juice, a few drops

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Make the dill and lime mayonnaise first as it benefits from a little time during which the flavours can amalgamate. Combine the mayonnaise, dill and lime zest in a small mixing bowl. Season to taste with a few drops of lime juice and salt and pepper. Once made this will keep in the fridge (and get better-tasting) for a couple of days.

  2. Bring the court bouillon to the boil in a deep frying pan or chef's pan - it's important that the fish fillets are completely submerged - if necessary top up with some water from the kettle. Once boiling add the fish fillets and simmer very gently for 7-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets. With a fish slice, transfer the fillets onto a plate lined with kitchen paper to allow them to drain of excess liquid.

  3. Transfer the fish to serving plates skin-side up and gently peel away the skin which should come away in a single piece. A table knife may help in the process. Season the fillets to taste.

  4. Serve straightaway with the dill and lime mayonnaise, lemon wedges and the broad bean and pea crush.


  • Broad bean and pea crush: Boil freshly podded broad beans until just done (a touch under) and refresh in cold water. Remove the skins from the larger, tougher beans but leave smaller, more tender ones in the skins. Likewise boil some fresh or frozen peas until just done (or a little under) and, again, refresh in cold water. Put both the beans and the peas in a saucepan and lightly crush them with a potato masher. Just before serving up, add a little extra virgin olive oil and warm the bean and pea crush over a low to medium heat. Season to taste and serve.

  • Fresh mayonnaise: Put 1 egg yolk, ½ tbsp Dijon mustard and 1 tbsp of white wine vinegar in the container of a blender which has a drip-feed lid (see this Kenwood Mini Chopper for example). Measure out 85ml groundnut (or sunflower) oil in a jug. Give the contents of the blender a good blitz and, with the motor running continuously, slowly drip the oil through the feed hole. Next measure out 40ml olive oil and continue to drip feed the oil gradually with the blender motor running. Check the texture and continue to add more of either oil if the consistency is a little too thin. Finally, season to taste and the mayonnaise is ready. It will keep for about 3 days in the fridge in a screw-top jar.


  1. "Sauces: Savoury & Sweet", Michel Roux (2009), pp. 82:


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