Fire baked sea bass with leeks, samphire and tarragon recipe

Make the most of the elements to cook up this delicious fish dish from the comfort of a camper van

"Sea bass, the fisherman’s nemesis. Well, mine anyway. I have been on so many trips to try and catch sea bass that it’s getting silly now. No. Off to the fishmonger’s again. If samphire isn’t available use sprue asparagus, asparagus tips or fine green beans instead. They will only need 4-5 minutes’ cooking."

Serves 4


  • 2 whole prepared, cleaned sea bass, bream or snapper, each about 750g
  • 2 lemons, one sliced and the other juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 8 bay leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Small knob of butter, plus 1 tbsp
  • 4 leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 small tumblers of dry white wine or vermouth
  • 4 generous handfuls samphire (sea asparagus)
  • 2 tbsp chopped tarragon leaves (or parsley, chives, dill or chervil)


  1. Slash the skin of each sea bass on both sides. Season the inside and outside of each fish with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Tuck lemon and garlic slices and bay leaves inside the fish cavities and drizzle lemon juice into each one.

  2. Cook the fish on a grill over a campfire (or on a barbecue) in a barbecue fish basket for 20-30 minutes, turning halfway – the timing will depend on the heat of your fire and size of the fish. Alternatively, wrap each fish in a parcel of foil or greaseproof paper and a couple of sheets of thoroughly dampened newspaper. If you want to cook the fish in the embers, wrap them in a double layer of oiled kitchen foil – just watch out for burnt fingers!

  3. Heat a generous slug of olive oil with the knob of butter in a fireproof frying pan alongside the fish and cook the leeks for 8-10 minutes or until soft. Pour in the wine or vermouth and bubble until there are only a couple of tablespoons left in the pan. Stir in the samphire, cover and steam cook for 3-4 minutes. Take the lid off, stir in some freshly ground black pepper, the tablespoon of butter and the tarragon - you won’t need any salt as samphire is salty. Serve alongside the sea bass.

The Camper Van Cookbook by Martin Dorey and Sarah Randell is out now, published by Saltyard Books.


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Tuesday 22 February 2011
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