Pouting (or bib as it’s sometimes called) is a totally underrated fish. It’s way up there quality-wise and is buttery, flaky, juicy and delicious, not to mention a wonderful carrier of flavours. It’s from the same family as cod so makes a great alternative to its over-fished cousin. Pick some up at your local fishmonger or supermarket and use it in place of more traditional white fish in any of your favourite recipes. I’ve done whole fillets here, but you could easily cut the fillets lengthways into chunky pieces before you start to make proper fish fingers.
Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6. Toss the sweet potato wedges in a roasting tray with a pinch of salt and pepper, the paprika and a lug of olive oil. Cook in the hot oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.
Meanwhile, put the pouting fillets on a board and sprinkle over a pinch of salt and pepper and the flour, making sure they’re well coated on both sides. Dunk the floured fillets in the beaten egg then transfer them to the breadcrumbs and push and turn them until well coated on all sides.
Put a large frying pan on a medium heat. Add a good lug of olive oil along with the garlic and rosemary to flavour the oil. When the garlic starts to sizzle, it’s time to add the fish. Shake the fillets so any excess breadcrumbs fall off then add to the pan, skin-side down. If you’re cooking fish fingers, they’ll need 5 to 6 minutes; a whole fillet will take 7 to 8 minutes. Don’t be tempted to touch the fish, use your instincts and let it cook until golden on the underside before flipping it over and reducing to a low heat while it finishes cooking.
Meanwhile, chop off the tough ends of the basil stalks then pound the rest of it with a pinch of salt in a pestle and mortar until you’ve got a paste. Add the mayonnaise and lemon juice and muddle it all together.
Serve the pouting with a portion of sweet potato chips, a good dollop of basil mayo and a wedge of lemon for squeezing over. Delicious with a crisp green salad or hot buttered peas.
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