Fillet of local sea bass with casserole of Poole shellfish, tomato sauce and herb gnocchi

PUBLISHED: 22:33 23 April 2013 | UPDATED: 14:04 25 March 2015

Alex Aitken's favourite seabass and shell fish dish.

Alex Aitken's favourite seabass and shell fish dish.


Alex Aitken, the award-winning Chef Patron at The Jetty and The Kings Arms in Christchurch, shares one of his favourite recipes with us

Alex Aitken checks out the catch of the day landed at ChristchurchAlex Aitken checks out the catch of the day landed at Christchurch

This is a firm favourite on our menu and features local sea bass and shellfish in an almost Spanish tomato sauce. For the sauce use a tin of Waitrose chopped tomatoes with thyme and garlic, we spend hours making a fresh version , however for the home cook this or similar is fine.

Serves 4

4 x 150g- 200g fillets of sea bass, scaled but with the skin left on

For the Gnocchi:

250g dry mashed potato

125g plain flour

1 beaten egg

salt and pepper to taste

teaspoon chopped chives or parsley

Mix all the above together, roll into long sausage like cylinders, wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes. Meanwhile bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Slice the chilled gnocchi mix into 3 to 4cm pieces. Drop into the boiling water, when they rise to the surface they are cooked, drain and hold for finishing the dish.

For the Shellfish:

250g clams or cockles

250g mussels

a chopped shallot

smashed clove of garlic

sprig of parsley

good glass of white wine

a knob of butter

Put the shallot, garlic and butter in a thick-bottomed saucepan and lightly cook, turn up the heat and add the white wine, bring to a fast boil. Add the parsley and shellfish. Cover and cook for around 5 minutes or until all the shells are open. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, strain off the liquid and reserve for the sauce.

For the Sauce:

1 finely chopped shallot

knob of butter

sprig of fresh thyme

a tin of Waitrose chopped tomatoes with thyme and garlic

100g fresh black olives

cooking juices from the shellfish

Melt the butter in a thick-bottomed pan, add shallot and garlic, add the shellfish cooking juices, reduce, then add the chopped tomato, the cooked shellfish and thyme and keep warm but do not allow to reduce. To finish the dish cook the sea bass. Season the sea bass fillets and sear skin side down in a non-stick pan. Cook the bass until nearly cooked through the skin (about 8 minutes) then to finish turn them over. At this point add the gnocchi and cook to add colour and re-heat.

To serve: Take four warm bowls or plates, spoon the shellfish and sauce onto the plates, top with sea bass and gnocchi and serve with fresh crusty bread and a glass of full-bodied white wine or even a chilled soft red wine.

The Jetty, 95 Mudeford

Christchurch, BH23 3NT

01202 400950

Kings Arms, 18 Castle Street

Christchurch, BH23 1DT

0844 8589184

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