Sea bass with prawn tortellini, fennel purée and white wine sauce

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This extravagant sea bass recipe from Simon Hulstone has many components and requires a little bit of culinary skill to pull it off. Those willing to take on the challenge will be rewarded by an incredibly well thought out and balanced sea bass fillet dish, worthy of any summer dinner party.

First published in 2015




Roasted sea bass

Pasta dough

Prawn tortellini filling

  • 12 king prawns, peeled, cleaned and chopped into small pieces
  • 30g of breadcrumbs
  • 50ml of double cream
  • 1 dash of lemon juice
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • 30g of butter, melted

Fennel purée

White wine sauce

  • 100ml of white wine
  • 1 shallot, peeled but kept whole
  • 25ml of white wine vinegar
  • 180g of butter, cold and diced
  • salt



  • Food processor or blender
  • Pasta machine
  • Pastry brush


For the tortellini, place the flour into a food processor, pulse and add the eggs and yolks, one by one. Stop processing as soon as the mix comes together, you might not need all the eggs, and if you accidently add too much, thicken with a little flour
Tip the mix out onto a floured surface, knead for 3-5 minutes or until smooth. Divide in half, wrap in cling film and allow to chill in the fridge
For the tortellini mix, place the pieces of prawn into a bowl and add the breadcrumbs. Add the cream and mix until well-blended. Season with salt and a dash of lemon juice
Shape the mix with your hands into 8 small balls and refrigerate until required
Roll the pasta dough through a pasta machine, starting from the widest setting, and gradually going down the settings so that the arrow is between 0 and 1. Repeat the rolling process on the last setting to ensure there is a consistent finish to the thickness of the dough. The pasta should be dry, but with no cracks and slightly elastic
Cut 8 circles of the pasta using a 7cm pastry cutter. Use a pastry brush to coat the edge of the circles with egg wash, so that the tortellini will seal
Place a ball of the prawn filling into the centre of each round. Enclose by folding each round of pasta in half to form a semi-circle, use your thumb and forefinger to force out any air and seal the edges
Press the straight side of the tortellini on a flat edge to form a base, this will ensure the pasta stands upright when served. Brush with the melted butter and place onto a tray lined with baking parchment. Set aside in the fridge to chill
For the fennel purée, place a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the butter and fennel to the pan and sweat for 5 minutes. Add the milk and cream, increase the heat and bring to the boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until the fennel is soft
Remove the pan from the heat. Strain off the liquid and reserve. Place the fennel into a blender with enough cooking liquid to cover and blend until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve, add more liquid to ensure the finished purée is smooth but holds firm
Bring a medium sized pot of water to the boil. Once the baby leeks are washed, trim off the roots but make sure you keep the base of the leeks intact. Cut 3cm off the top of the leek and cut each leek in half
Add a large handful of salt to the boiling water and drop in the baby leeks for 30-45 seconds. Remove from the water and plunge into a bowl of ice water for 5 minutes. Drain and place on absorbent kitchen towel
For the white wine sauce, place the shallot, vinegar and white wine in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer and reduce to approximately 50ml. Remove the shallot and reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Slowly add in the butter, while whisking vigorously
  • 1 shallot
  • 25ml of white wine vinegar
  • 100ml of white wine
  • 180g of butter
When most of the butter has been added, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the last of the butter to achieve the correct consistency - the sauce should coat the back of a spoon. Season to taste with salt and keep warm
For the wild mushrooms, heat the butter in a small pan over a medium to high heat. Once the butter begins to foam, add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, season with salt to taste and keep warm
Preheat the oven to 200˚C/gas mark 6. Bring a pot of water slowly up to the boil
For the sea bass, place a large non-stick pan over a medium to high heat, pour in enough rapeseed oil to cover the base
  • rapeseed oil
Once the oil is hot, add the sea bass fillets, skin-side down, into the pan (you may need to pan-fry the fish in batches, depending on the size of your pan). Press down the flesh of the fish lightly with a spatula as it cooks, this will ensure the fish cooks evenly
After 2-3 minutes, turn the fish over and add a knob of butter and the blanched leeks to the pan, cook for a further 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and place straight into the oven to roast for 3 minutes. Remove from the oven, season with salt and allow to rest
Drop the tortellini into the boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the pasta is tender but not soggy. Remove the tortellini from the water and toss in a little olive oil
  • olive oil
To serve, divide the warm fennel purée across 4 plates and place the sea bass fillets on top. Add the tortellini beside the fish along with the warm leeks and mushrooms. Drizzle with the white wine sauce and serve immediately
First published in 2015

Simon Hulstone's aesthetically pleasing and rewarding cuisine can be found in Torquay at The Elephant, which holds a Michelin star.

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