If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know that our household’s fish of choice is salmon these days. Interestingly, though, that wasn’t always the case – when we lived in the UK, it was probably equally split between salmon and sea bass or sea bream. I say bass or bream as the naming on them seems to vary from the UK to the US and what is generally considered bass here is a lot bigger. In any event, they are quite closely related and both delicious. When the theme for this month’s Fish Friday Foodies was set as stuffed whole fish, I was pretty sure I wanted to use bass/bream. After thinking about a few different options, I decided to use some of the flavors from the Sicilian-style stuffed squid I made previously to make this chard, lemon and couscous stuffed fish. It’s a dish that not only looks great, it tastes fantastic as well. Plus, it’s pretty easy to make and healthy too.
The inspiration for this couscous stuffed fish
Many years ago, in the days when I used to have time to try out more recipes that took a bit of time, I remember one we had a couple times was an almond-raisin-spiced couscous stuffed quail. Couscous makes a great base for a stuffing as it can take on lots of different flavors. It’s also quick to make and easy to mix with various other ingredients. Chard and lemon were ideal flavor partners for this couscous stuffed fish and they compliment the fish so well. I used bream but most relatively mild white fish would be fine. I’d say bass, branzini or snapper would also be good.
How it’s made
To make this, first you gently cook some onion in some olive oil, add the chard stalks and garlic and soften. Then add the chard leaves and wilt them down. Meanwhile, cover some couscous with water. Remove the chard mixture from heat, add the lemon juice and zest along with the couscous and a little parsley. Score the skin of the fish, fill the cavity with the couscous and bake until the fish is cooked.
We had this couscous stuffed fish with some green beans and roasted carrots and it was all so delicious. True, once you take the fish off the bone it is less attractive, but it doesn’t matter as soon as you take a bite. Everything is moist and aromatically flavored, and with the couscous stuffing it’s nicely filling without being at all heavy. This chard, lemon and couscous stuffed fish is such a tasty meal that is great whether served to impress guests or just because; either way it’s definitely one to try.
This chard, lemon and couscous stuffed fish is a delicious meal in one - tender fish and flavorful couscous work so well together.
- 1/4 cup couscous 45g
- 3 lb sea bream 1.3kg, approx, or other similar fish - 2 medium fish (approx 2lb 8ox cleaned weight)
- 1/4 large onion
- 5 oz chard 140g, including stalks
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp olive oil or more as needed
- 3/4 oz parsley 22g
- 1/2 lemon both juice and zest
Preheat oven to 375F/190C.
Boil some water, put the couscous in a heatproof bowl and pour over enough boiling water to just cover the couscous. Set aside, covered, while you prepare everything else.
Clean out the fish if not properly cleaned before and score each twice on each side. Lay in a baking dish big enough for the fish to lie flat.
Finely dice the onion. Remove the chard stems from the leaves and finely chop the stem and shred the leaves. Finely chop the garlic and roughly chop the parsley.
Warm the oil in a medium-large skillet and soften often onion, stirring now and then. If it starts to brown, you probably need to either reduce the heat or add a little more oil or both. After around 3min, add the chard stalks and garlic. After another approx 5min, when the onion is translucent and the chard stalks appear to be softening, add the chard leaves and cook, stirring, so they wilt down.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the parsley, lemon juice and zest, and couscous and stir all so it is well mixed.
Divide the mixture between the cavities of the two fish and press in well.
Bake for approx 20min until the fish are cooked through.
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