Bass with air-dried ham, courgettes, lemon and herbs

Bass with air-dried ham, courgettes, lemon and herbs

Everyday Seafood

This is a really nice dish for late summer when bass is great, courgettes are aplenty and herbs are thriving. The lovely saltiness of the air-dried ham (Parma or Bayonne), with the zingy lemon and fresh herbs, works brilliantly with the bass. If the weather’s good, you could barbecue the bass whole and just serve it with the courgette salad and dressing.


Quantity Ingredient
1 bass, gutted, scaled, filleted and pin-boned, 1.5-2 kg
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to drizzle and dress the courgettes
1 white onion, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled, halved (germ removed) and sliced
8 slices air-dried ham, cut into strips
300ml see method for ingredients
250ml double cream
3 courgettes
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped dill
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 lemon, zest finely grated and juiced
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


  1. To make the sauce, heat a medium pan over a medium heat and add the 2 tbsp olive oil. When it is hot, add the onion and garlic and cook for 3 minutes to soften. Add the ham and cook for a further 4 minutes until it is starting to crisp.
  2. Pour in the fish stock, bring to a simmer and let bubble until reduced by half. Add the cream, bring back to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken.
  3. Meanwhile finely slice the courgettes lengthways, on a mandoline if you have one (or veg peeler if not), and place in a bowl. Add the herbs, with half of the lemon zest and juice. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss well.
  4. Preheat your grill to high.
  5. To finish the sauce, add the remaining lemon juice and mustard and season with a little salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside while you cook the fish.
  6. Cut the bass fillets in half to give 4 equal portions and place skin side up on a grill tray. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle on the remaining lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Grill the fish for 5–7 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, give the courgettes another toss and then drain in a colander set over a bowl to collect the dressing. Remove the fish from the grill and leave to rest and finish cooking on the tray for 1 minute.
  8. Spoon the sauce onto 4 warmed plates. Pile two-thirds of the courgettes in the centre and lay a portion of bass on top. Arrange the remaining courgette ribbons on the fish and finish with a spoonful or two of the dressing. Serve at once.
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