Following a traditional Christmas in Suffolk (Turkey or Quorn roast with all the trimmings, a disappointing episode of Doctor Who and Israel bombing Palestine, etc) we had a second, less traditional Christmas dinner a few days later in Berlin (Some photos here). This lettuce-wrapped bass was the main attraction, served alongside an indulgent Gratin Dauphinois and a flourish of buttered French beans.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Skill level: easy/medium
- bass – 1.4kg (3lb)
- 2 romaine lettuces
- shallots – 6-10
- white wine – 6 tbsp
- butter – a big knob
- flour – some
- single cream – 3 tbsp
- garlic – 1 clove
- 1 egg yolk
- olive oil
- s & p
Start by washing, skinning and de-boning the fish fillets.
Cut in half, season and roll in flour.
Fry the fillets in melted butter and olive oil for a minute on each side and reserve.
Remove the outer leaves of the lettuce and plunge into a pan of boiling water. Remove immediately and rinse in cold water. Shake dry, cut in half lengthways (removing the central vein) and lay flat on a tea towel.
Wrap the fish fillets in the lettuce leaves and set aside.
Generously butter a large gratin dish (or deep baking tray) and sprinkle with finely chopped shallots. Cut the 2 lettuce hearts in half and place on top of the shallots. Then add the fish and pour over 6 tbsp of white wine.
Bake in a preheated oven (180C/gas mark 4) for 12 minutes.
Remove the fish and lettuce hearts and place on a warm serving dish.
Strain the cooking liquor into a pan and reduce over a high heat to about 175ml. Mix together the egg yolk and cream and add to the pan. Give it a quick whisk, remove from the heat and stir in a very generous (50g) knob of butter. Season to taste.
Serve the fish and lettuce and pour over some of the sauce.
Sprinkle with chopped, peeled and de-seeded tomato if the urge grabs you.
Verdict: The fish was moist and succulent and the sauce rich and piquant. There is more to a lettuce than salad.
Drink: Lager with Campari, pink Champagne, red El Coto, golden desert wine.
Entertainment: Opening of Christmas presents before and an unexpected yuletide PowerPoint presentation afterwards.