It’s HEART OF THE MATTER time again and this month’s theme is fish, for anyone who doesn’t know what it’s about, it’s a blogging event held by the lovely Ilva and Joanna who are trying to compile a database of healthy recipes that people can access at anytime, basically any blogger can submit whatever recipe they like as long as it is healthy and good for the heart. I have already done a cod recipe which I’m going to submit with this one, both done in a bag! I really like this month’s theme as we don’t eat enough fish in Ireland, I know we don’t, we always have great intentions to eat it at least once a week but it’s more like once every 2 weeks. I know a lot of people never eat fish and gag at the thought of it and other’s only eat it once in a blue moon.

It’s amazing really as we live on an island but fish just wasn’t popular in Ireland until recently,  I know in our house the closest we got to fish was fish fingers. I wasn’t born a foodie you know!! When myself and Bruno first got together all those years ago (15 to be exact) I was every Italian mother’s nightmare. A heineken guzzling, kebab eating student who knew absolutely nothing about food, the first time she gave me pesto I hated it, I used to call gnocchi “YUCKY” and thought it was hilarious(cringe) and the first time she brought out a big platter of fresh prawns I nearly died. They had heads on, I only knew prawns as frozen little shrimp that you eat in prawn cocktail. In my defense these were the days of ordering chicken Kiev or Cordon Bleu in a restaurant and washing it down with a bottle of Blue Nun or going Italian with a bottle of Lambrusco!! So when they proceeded to snap the heads off the prawns, eat them with their hands and suck the juices and meat out of the claws and talk at the same time I was gobsmacked – where were their table manners???  It was a whole new world to me and one I eventually became part of. It took a while mind you – Italian mammas and their sons, another day’s post!!! I’m now a vino guzzling wannabe Italian cook who loves nothing more than a bowl of home-made “yucky” with fresh pesto topped with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano on top and an espresso after to digest!! – how things change:)!!

We’re lucky as Superquinn always have a great selection of fish so we try to vary and try new fish all the time, salmon is probably the most popular fish in Ireland. This is evident in Superquin as they have a whole stand dedicated to it, all the ladies seem to love it – my mother and sister included. They always order salmon when we are out to eat, I try to convince them to try something else, my mother did once and ordered the sea bass and nearly lost her life when it arrived head and eyes intact(the best way of course) – she couldn’t eat something that was looking at her!! We have become so far removed from food in it’s natural form in Ireland, I’ll be the first to admit I have never gutted or filleted a fish I always get them to do it in Superquinn for me, I’m really a fake foodie!!

Sea bass is one of the most popular fish in Italy because of it’s versatility and delicate but firm flesh. It’s great cooked anyway – boiled, baked, grilled or in a bag like this recipe. It is widely available in Italy as it can be caught off any coast where the sea is fairly rough. It can reach up to 1 metre in length and 10kg in weight. Because of it’s high demand sea bass has to be farmed and so the weight and size of the fish can be controlled for culinary use! – taken from Carluccio’s “Complete Italian Food”.

I served the sea bass with roast potatoes done with the duck fat left over from the dreaded duck recipe!!


  • 3 sea bass – either use whole or get your fishmonger to gut and fillet them for you. They are tastier if you cook them whole.
  • 2 fennel bulbs – sliced thinly
  • fennel seeds(optional) -fennel loses a lot of it’s flavour when cooked so you can add some seeds if you like for extra flavour.
  • 1 white onion – sliced thinly
  • 2 spring onion – chopped
  • 1 sprig flat parsley-  finely chopped
  • 2 lemons – 1 sliced and juice of another
  • 2 cloves garlic sliced
  • white wine
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper.
  • parchment paper or tin foil.


 – line the base of your oven tray with parchment and have the same amount to cover over, heat your oven to 200 degrees.

 – pour some olive on the base of the parchment and place your fennel and onion on top, season with salt and pepper.

 – lay your sea bass on top of your fennel and scatter your garlic, spring onion, parsley and lemon slices over your fish.

 – season with salt and pepper, pour a splash of wine, your lemon juice and olive oil over everything.

 – close up your bag and cook for 20-30 mins.


p.s. if you really don’t like fennel (shame on you), just leave it out and throw in a sprig of rosemary for extra flavour!!