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Marinated Salt Bream With Roast Tomatoes

Serves 5-6 as a starter.


  • 1 thick fillet (400-500g) from a good-sized black bream (or 2 smaller fillets), skin on

  • 6 good, ripe tomatoes – large plums or medium round ones

  • A few sprigs of thyme, plus extra to finish

  • Olive oil

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • For the cure

  • 150g sea salt

  • 50g caster sugar

  • 2 bay leaves, finely shredded

  • 5g freshly ground black pepper

  • For the marinade

  • 1 small red onion or 2 shallots, finely sliced

  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or cider vinegar

  • 4 tablespoons good quality olive oil

  • 1 large garlic clove, very finely sliced


  • 1.

    Thoroughly mix the cure ingredients. Choose a non-metallic dish in which the fish fillet will fit neatly. Sprinkle half the cure over the base of the dish, in a layer the width of the fish.

  • 2.

    Lay the fish over the cure, skin side down, and sprinkle the rest of the cure over it. Leave the fish to cure in a cool larder, or the fridge, for 6-8 hours – no more than 10.

  • 3.

    3 Remove the fillet, rinse thoroughly and immediately pat dry with a clean cloth.

  • 4.

    Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 140C/gas 1. Cut the tomatoes in quarters and scoop out the seeds. Arrange the tomato quarters in an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with a little salt and the thyme sprigs and trickle with olive oil.

  • 5.

    Roast the tomatoes gently for 2-2½ hours until half-dried, half-roasted and nice and sweet. Leave to cool completely in the dish.

  • 6.

    Slice the cured fish flesh from the skin at an angle. Start at the tail end, cutting it like a side of smoked salmon into 5-10mm thick slices. Remove and discard any remaining bones as you go.

  • 7.

    Combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Add the pieces of sliced bream, along with the cooled, roasted tomatoes and any juices from the dish, and toss together well.

  • 8.

    Leave, covered, in the fridge for at least 2 hours, and up to 4 or 5, so the flavours can marry and mingle. Remove from the fridge an hour or so before serving and toss once more.

  • 9.

    Serve, sprinkled with a few fresh thyme leaves, with crusty bread or pitta to mop up the juices.

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