Mary Contini’s recipe: Griddled bass with tomato and basil sauce

Our fishermen are working flat out to bring fresh Scottish fish to our tables. Brexit has shaken up the markets, but one benefit is there is more choice locally on fishmongers’ slabs. Look out for amazing line caught sea bass and halibut being landed in the north…the flavour is light years away from farmed and imported varieties. If you can buy these fish filleted with the skin attached. The skin acts as a protection when it is cooking and when crispy and well-seasoned is delicious to eat as well.

Eat fish as fresh as you can, on the day you buy it is always better than the day after!

For the sauce:

2 ripe plum or beef tomatoes

3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

6 fresh basil leaves

1 small garlic clove, skin left on

Sea salt


First remove the skin from the tomatoes. Prepare a bowl of boiling water. Use a sharp knife to slit the skin of the tomatoes and ‘plot’ them in the boiling water. Leave for 4-5 minutes. The skin will start to loosen. Remove the tomatoes from the water and pull the skin away.

Cut the tomatoes in half, scoop out the seeds.

Chop the flesh into small cubes.

Warm the extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan over a low heat for a few minutes.

Remove from the heat and tear in the basil leaves.

Add the garlic clove.

Add as sprinkling of sea salt and leave to allow the flavours to infuse.

When ready to serve, add the tomato pieces and 2 tablespoons hot water to the oil and warm gently for 5-10 minutes, just long enough to start to soften the tomatoes and release some of their juices. Check seasoning.

To cook the fish:

4 x 180g fillets sea line caught bass, hake, cod, or halibut with skin still on.

Sea salt

Olive oil and butter


Remove the fish from the refrigerator and rinse in cold water.

Pat dry and season well with sea salt.

Set aside for 15 minutes.

Pre-heat a wide griddle pan.

When ready to cook rub the fish with a little oil and place skin side down in the pan. Add a couple of blobs of butter and cook, skin side down for 5-6 minutes until the fish looks cooked ¾ way through.

Turn and cook on the other side for 2-3 minutes, adding another blob of butter.

Serve on a warm plate with some lemon juice squeezed over each piece.

Spoon over the warm tomato and olive oil sauce.

Mary Contini OBE is a writer and Director of Valvona & Crolla ltd. We are happy to welcome you in our CaffèBar and shop again, open all day. Book and order online: www. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992