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Brown butter
Yuki Sugiara

Brown butter sea bass with tangerine dipping sauce

This wonderful recipe from Ixta Belfrage is surprisingly simple.

Serving: Serves 2


  • 1 x 800g sea bass, at room temperature
  • 2 stalks of fresh rosemary
  • 40g spring onions (about four thin ones)
  • Fine salt
  • 1 baby gem lettuce, leaves separated
  • 5g fresh mint leaves
  • 5g fresh coriander leaves
  • 5g fresh basil leaves
  • Lime wedges
  • For the citrus butter
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 30ml olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp tangerine juice
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 3 cloves of garlic, skin left on and crushed with the side of a knife
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • About 20 twists of freshly-ground black pepper
    For the tangerine dipping sauce
  • 1.5 tsp pul biber (also known as Aleppo pepper; use red bell pepper flakes if you don’t like heat)
  • 1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • Quarter tsp finely-grated fresh ginger
  • Three quarter tsp tomato purée or paste
  • Quarter tsp fine salt
  • 1.5 tbsp mild and light olive oil
  • 40g sweet, ripe cherry tomatoes such as Datterini, very finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp tangerine juice
  • 2 tsps lime juice
  • Quarter tsp fish sauce or light soy sauce


1. Preheat the oven to 190C fan/210C.
2. Pat the sea bass with kitchen towel to make sure it’s as dry as possible. Transfer it to a 33 x 26cm non-stick high-sided baking tray, arranging it diagonally so it fits. The tray shouldn’t be much bigger than the fish, otherwise the citrus butter will burn.
3. Use a very sharp knife to make five diagonal slits in the fish. Season the cavity with quarter of a teaspoon of fine salt, then stuff with the rosemary and spring onions.
4. Put all the ingredients for the citrus butter into a small saucepan and place on a medium heat until the butter has melted. Pour over and around the fish.
5. Bake for 14 minutes (or longer if your fish is larger than 800g), then baste the fish well and turn the oven to the highest grill setting. Grill on the top shelf of the oven for four to six minutes, or until the skin begins to bubble and crisp. Keep a close eye, as some grills are much hotter than others.
6. While the fish is cooking, make the tangerine dipping sauce. Put the pul biber, garlic, ginger, tomato purée/paste and fine salt into a mortar, and pound with a pestle to a rough paste.
7. Heat the oil in a small saucepan on a medium heat for one minute, then pour the hot oil into the mortar. Stir together, then add the chopped tomatoes, tangerine juice, lime juice and fish sauce.
8. Once cooked, transfer the sea bass to a large platter with the browned citrus butter. Discard the garlic skins. Serve with the lettuce and soft herbs to make parcels with, and the dipping sauce and lime wedges alongside.

Recipe taken from MEZCLA by Ixta Belfrage (Ebury Press) 


Don’t be put off by the longish ingredients list and method. Read through it once and you’ll realise this recipe is actually very straightforward and requires very little hands-on cooking.
This is a great interactive sharing dish; stuff pieces of fish into the lettuce leaves (fresh corn tortillas would be great, too), top with the herbs and dipping sauce, and let it trickle down your wrists as you eat with your hands. You’ll need four tangerines and two limes in total for this recipe. The dipping sauce can be made up to two days in advance.