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    Sea Bass Bilbaína

    • Serves 2 people
    • Complexity Easy
    Prep time
    15 mins
    Cook time
    10 mins
    Total time
    35 mins
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    • 1.5kg whole wild sea bass, butterflied with the head on
    • 6 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for oiling the fish
    • 1/4 dried guindilla chilli finely sliced or ¼ tsp of dried chilli flakes
    • 4 whole garlic cloves, finely sliced
    • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
    • 1 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley


    Sea bass is a succulent white fish that can be cooked in many ways. In Southern Spain, you will generally see it served as a whole salt baked seabass using larger size specimens that can serve up to six people. In the Basque country, sea bass is generally cooked on the barbecue and served with a ‘refrito de ajos’ also known as bilbaína sauce, which is a garlic and dried chilli infused oil, finished with cider vinegar. A whole sea bass barbecued to perfection makes a great summertime dish. The bones help to add flavour and moisture to the flesh, while the charred skin makes the fish taste out of this world.


    1. Pre-heat your barbecue.
    2. Check the sea bass has been properly gutted and scaled and remove the head if desired. Slash the skin about 3 to 4 times down both sides of the fillet. Drizzle with some good olive oil, season with sea salt and place in an oiled fish basket. Alternatively, place directly onto the barbecue (a clean barbecue will help to stop the fish from sticking).
    3. Start flesh side down and cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, the fish is cooked when the flesh comes easily away from the bone.
    4. While the fish is cooking, prepare the garlic and chilli oil by warming in a medium sauce pan the olive oil and garlic slices. Gently fry the garlic slices until lightly golden, sprinkle the dried chilli and set aside.
    5. Once the sea bass is cooked, place in a warm serving platter, spoon the garlic and chilli oil, drizzle the cider vinegar and sprinkle with the chopped parsley.

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