Prep time: 30 mins | Cooking time: 2h 10m
Seabass served whole, stuffed with Leek, Tarragon & Fennel
Inspired by the Simanim, the symbolic foods eaten at Rosh Hashana, this zingy fish course is full of refreshing aniseed and citrus flavours, beautifully balanced with the delicate fish. A perfect starter for the New Year, it features not one, but three Simanim: fish, head and leek. It is a custom held by many to place a whole fish and/or the head of a fish on the table, and this is a great way to uphold that tradition.
With each of these symbols respectively, we ask for Hashem’s blessings that we should be fruitful and multiply like fish; that we should be like the head and not the tail; and that our enemies be cut down. (Leek in aramaic is ‘Karti’, and as we eat the leek, we make a play on the Hebrew word ‘karat’, meaning ‘cut down’).
- 1 Whole Seabass deboned, with the head still attached
- 1 Fennel thinly sliced
- 1 Leek thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil plus a little extra
- 5 Sprigs of Thyme
- 1 Orange half sliced in semicircles, half reserved for juicing
- 1 Lemon half sliced in semicircles, half reserved for juicing
- 2 tsp fresh Tarragon roughly chopped
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 200°C / 180°C fan (Gas Mark 6 / 400°F)
- We used a seabass, but you can use any fish of your choosing. You will want to keep the head on the fish (for the siman) and remove the central bone, while keeping the integrity of the fish.
- In a frying pan, pour 1 tbsp of oil and warm over a medium-high heat. Add sliced fennel and leek. Fry until soft, moving regularly to ensure it doesn’t burn.
- Add in 5 sprigs of thyme and 2 tbsp of chopped tarragon leaves and a generous amount of salt and pepper.
- Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and half an orange. Continue cooking for a further 10 mins, remove the thyme sprigs, set aside the mixture and allow to cool.
- Cut a length of foil and a sheet of greaseproof paper each long enough to wrap the entire fish. Place the foil on a baking tray, then layer the greaseproof paper on top of the foil.
- Using a little olive oil or spray oil, lightly coat both sides of the fish. Place your fish on top of the greaseproof paper, in the centre of the tray.
- Carefully open your fish and layer alternating slices of orange and lemon inside in an overlapping pattern.
- Top your citrus slices with the leek, fennel and tarragon stuffing mixture.
- Gently bring together the greaseproof paper and foil sheets around the fish and wrap into a loose parcel with sealed edges, to keep in any moisture.
- Place the tray into the preheated oven and cook for 40 minutes.
- Very carefully unwrap the top of the sealed parcel with the opening facing away from you, as scalding-hot steam will escape. Reveal the top of the fish, and place back into the oven for a further 10-15 minutes to crisp up the skin.
- Serve the fish whole.
(Image Credit: Sophy Weiss Photography)