Hosting family on Boxing Day? Try this simple roast wild sea bass dish by Guy Awford

Boxing Day is a tricky day to host a lunch. Hampered by the previous day’s indulgencies you’ll want to avoid another challenging morning in the kitchen. I suggest roasting a wild sea bass with a healthy selection of winter vegetables; it’s dead simple to prepare, easy to cook, and it looks wonderful served whole at the table for everyone to share.

The first step is to choose the right size fish. To be generous you’ll want to serve at least 200g of fish per person, so bearing in mind you’ll lose about half the weight to the head and bones, you’ll need to allow for approximately 400g per person. Ask your fishmonger to clean and scale the fish as it’s a particularly messy job. If you do scale the bass yourself beware of the fins – they are very sharp!

Half an hour before cooking give the bass a good wash in cold water, then dry thoroughly and leave out of the fridge to come to room temperature. Now cut three deep slashes in each side of the bass to allow the heat to penetrate quickly and evenly. It’s very important that the fish is as dry as possible before you put it into the oven, as you need a high dry heat to roast effectively, so pat dry once again with kitchen paper before seasoning and placing the aromatics in the cavity.

Finally, when roasting anything on the bone it’s essential to rest it before serving to allow the residual heat to complete the cooking process.

Roast Wild sea Bass with Winter Vegetables & Aioli

  • Prep Time 30
  • Cook Time 40
  • Serves 6


1 wild sea bass, approx 2.4kg (ask your fishmonger to clean and scale it)
12 Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
3 heads of fennel, trimmed and quartered, fronds reserved
4 shallots, sliced
6 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 lemons
1 head of garlic, cloves separated (but not peeled)
Winter greens
3 bay leaves
200g mayonnaise
Pinch saffron and smoked paprika
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.
Toss the artichokes, shallots, garlic cloves, fennel and carrots in a light olive oil. Season and scatter into a large oven dish. Roast for 10 mins.
Dry the bass thoroughly, brush with a light olive oil and season generously inside and out. Push a chopped shallot, three bay leaves and a few slices of lemon into the cavity.
Place the bass on top of the vegetables and roast for 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes to allow the residual heat to complete the cooking process.
In the meantime, remove the roast garlic and squeeze it into the mayo. Stir in saffron and smoked paprika to taste.
Scatter the fennel fronds over the bass. Place the oven dish, mayo and a bowl of winter greens on the table for your guests to share.

By Guy Awford

 Guy is chef-patron of, &