Ingredients - Serves 4

4 x 100 g (4 oz) fillets sea bass, skinned

100 g (4 oz) clarified butter (see Basics)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

50 ml (2 fl oz) vermouth

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

1 shallot, peeled and halved

1/2 vanilla pod

150 ml (5 fl oz) fish stock (see Basics)

25 g (1 oz) peeled, seeded and diced tomato

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh chervil

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 turns of the black pepper mill

For the fish stock - Makes 1.2 litres (2 pints)

1 kg (2 ΒΌ lb) fish bones, such as lemon sole, brill and plaice

2.4 litres (4 pints) water

1 onion, chopped

1 fennel bulb, chopped

100 g (4 oz) celery, sliced

100 g (4 oz) carrot, chopped

25 g (1 oz) button mushrooms, sliced

1 sprig thyme


To make the clarified butter, place the butter in a small pan and leave it over a very low heat unit lit has melted.

Then skim off any scum from the surface and pour off the clear (clarified) butter into a bowl, leaving behind the milky white solids that will have settled on the bottom of the pan.

To make the fish stock, put the fish bones and water into a large pan, bring just to the boil and simmer very gently for 20 minutes.

Strain through a muslin-lined sieve into a clean pan, add the vegetables and the thyme and bring back to the boil. Simmer for 35 minutes or until reduced to about 1.2 litres (2 pints). Strain once more and use or store as required.

Brush both sides of the sea bass fillets with a little of the clarified butter and season on both sides with salt and pepper.

Split the piece of vanilla pod open lengthways, scrape out the seeds with a small teaspoon and very finely chop the pod. Put the seeds and the pod into a small pan with the vermouth, vinegar and shallot, bring to the boil and boil for a few minutes until reduced to about 1tablespoon. Add the fish stock and boil once more until reduced to about 3 tablespoons.?

Remove the shallot halves; add the remaining clarified butter, tomato, chervil, salt and pepper and keep just warm over a very low heat.

Preheat a lightly oiled ridged griddle until very hot. Add the fish fillets and cook for 1 minute?on the skinned side and 30 seconds on the other side, pressing down on the top of each fillet in turn with the back of a fish slice to help mark them with the lines from the griddle. Lift onto 4 warmed plates and spoon 2 tablespoons of dressing to one side of each piece of fish.