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Coral trout with saffron and Sherry-roasted onions

Is there anything more showstopping than a whole baked fish?

By Jessica Brook
  • 25 mins preparation
  • 50 mins cooking (plus standing, resting)
  • Serves 4 - 6
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"As a wild-caught species, supply of coral trout will depend on fishing conditions," says John Susman of Fishtales. "Get in touch with your fishmonger well in advance. Alternatively, use a white-fleshed fish, such as snapper or hapuka."

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 onions, thickly sliced (800gm)
  • 250 ml (1 cup) Sherry
  • 1 whole coral trout (1.5kg), cleaned (see note)
  • 100 gm unsalted butter, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp saffron threads
  • 500 ml (2 cups) fish stock
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp Sherry vinegar
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped chives
  • Baby nasturtium leaves, to serve

Method

  • 1
    Preheat oven to 240˚C. Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over high heat. In two batches, add onions and cook until golden on each side (2 minutes). Place in a large roasting tray. Repeat with remaining onions. Drizzle onions with 60ml Sherry; season to taste.
  • 2
    Using a small sharp knife, score skin of trout ½cm deep in a diamond pattern. Brush with oil; season to taste. Place fish on top of onions and roast until flesh is just tender next to the bone and skin is golden and crisp (35-40 minutes). Set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
  • 3
    Meanwhile, to make saffron butter sauce, melt butter in a small saucepan over high heat, until foamy (2 minutes). Add garlic, saffron, fish stock, remaining Sherry, sugar and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cook until reduced by half (3-4 minutes). Add vinegar, season to taste and remove from heat.
  • 4
    To serve, spoon onions onto a serving platter. Top with fish and spoon over sauce. Serve topped with chives and nasturtium leaves.

Notes

If time permits, leave fish uncovered overnight in the fridge for the skin to dry out slightly. This will ensure a delicate crispness when it bakes. Drink suggestion: 2021 Thomas Wines 'Braemore' Semillon, Hunter Valley, NSW. Drink suggestion by Samantha Payne.

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