Whole Threadfin Bream Baked with Oregano & Chilli
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Whole plate-sized fish are easy to cook and look very impressive on the plate. Eat the flesh from one side of the fish, then carefully lift up the back bone, it should come away with the other bones attached so you can eat the other side. Superstition says it’s bad luck to turn a fish over.
3 desiree potatoes, peeled and cut into small dice (see notes)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 x 400g threadfin bream, scaled, gilled and gutted
2 teaspoons chopped oregano
2 small red chillies, seeded and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup dry white wine
Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Drain potatoes on a clean tea towel to remove excess moisture.
Finely grate the zest of the lemons and cut the fruit into thin slices.
Heat a heavy baking dish over a high heat, add half the oil, the potatoes and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes then stir and place in the oven and cook for a further 10-15 minutes until crisp and golden.
Thoroughly rinse the belly cavity of the fish and pat dry using paper towel. Score both sides of the fish with 3 or 4 angled cuts through to the bone.
Combine lemon zest, oregano, chilli, garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Add half the remaining olive oil and spoon this mixture into the slashes on both sides of each fish. Arrange lemon slices inside the belly cavities of both fish.
Preheat another heavy baking dish over a medium heat. Add remaining olive oil and place both fish in the pan. Allow to cook for 2 minutes, then carefully turn fish over, splash on wine and place in the oven. Cook for 6-10 minutes, until flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork.
Place fish on plates, with potatoes on the side, and pour cooking juices over the top.
Desiree are a good all-purpose potato; you could also use bintje, pontiac, spunta or pink-eye.
Snapper, tarwhine, whiting or any of the bream species.