A whole baked fish makes an impressive main course for a dinner party. The stuffing makes the fish go further and with no bones it's easy to serve and eat.
serves 4 - 6
900 g -1.5 kg (2 - 3 lb) whole fish such as carp, sea bass or salmon trout
30 g (2 tbsps) melted butter
15 g (1 tbsp) butter or margarine
1 small onion, finely chopped
120 g (4 oz) mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 hard-boiled egg, peeled and roughly chopped
90 g (3 oz) fresh breadcrumbs, white or wholemeal
Pinch salt and pepper
10 ml (2 tsps) chopped fresh dill
10 ml (2 tsps) chopped fresh parsley
140 ml (1/4 pint) sour cream
Grated rind and juice of 1/2 lemon
Pinch salt and white pepper
Lemon slices and parsley sprigs to garnish
1. Ask the fishmonger to gut and bone the fish for you, leaving on the head and tail. Sprinkle the cavity of the fish with salt and pepper and set it aside while preparing the stuffing.
2. To chop the onion finely, peel it and cut it in half lengthways. Place the onion cut side down on a chopping board. Using a large, sharp knife, make four cuts into the onion, parallel to the chopping board, but not completely through to the root end. Using the pointed tip of the knife, make four or five cuts into the onion lengthways, following the natural lines in the onion and not cutting through to the root end. Next, cut the onion crossways into thin or thick slices as desired and the onion should fall apart into individual dice. Keep fingers well out of the way when slicing.
3. Melt the butter or margarine in a medium-sized saucepan and add the chopped onion and mushrooms. Cook briefly to soften the vegetables and set aside. Stir in the remaining stuffing ingredients.
4. Spread the stuffing evenly into the cavity of the fish and place the fish in lightly buttered foil or in a large baking dish. Sprinkle the top with melted butter and bake in a preheated 180°C (350°F) Gas Mark 4 oven for about 40 minutes, basting frequently. If the fish begins to dry out too much on top, cover loosely with the foil.
5. When the fish is cooked, combine the sauce ingred-ients and pour over the fish. Cook a further 5 minutes to heat the sauce, but do not allow it to bubble. Remove the fish to a serving dish and garnish with lemon and parsley.
Cover the head and tail of the fish with lightly greased foil about halfway through cooking time . This will prevent the fish from drying out and improve the appearance of the finished dish.
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