WITH Christmas around the corner, this exceptional French dish is perfect to start off the merry season, a Christmas Eve supper that is light and flavoursome.

On Christmas Eve in France, after attending church, it is custom to return home and enjoy the Christmas meal a starter of foie gras or oysters followed by goose, turkey or ham and often black pudding, and finally a yule log which is an annual pagan tradition, a custom later adopted by Christians all across Europe.

An enormous log would be dragged into a large hearth then blessed splashed with wine, it then would be lit with a piece of log that was preserved from the year before to ensure good luck for the coming year the fire will then be tended so it burns for the twelve days of Christmas.


Serves four people

1 tsp finely grated lime zest

½ tsp icing sugar

2 tbsp olive oil

600g of sea bass fillets

for the sauce

2 tbsp butter

1 shallot

25mls white wine

25mls champagne

150mls double cream

100mls fish stock

Salt and ground white pepper

2 tsp fresh coriander

1 tsp chopped basil leaves


1. Mix together the lime zest and sugar. Put on a baking tray and place under a grill on the bottom level until caramelised. Remove from the baking tray with a metal spatula crush into small pieces and with the back of a knife set aside.

2. Heat the butter in a saucepan and sweat the shallot until translucent. Add the white wine and champagne. Bring to the boil and reduce by half add the fish stock and reduce by half again add the cream and simmer until creamy. Season and set aside.

3. Heat the oil and a knob of butter in a non stick pan and season the sea bass place the sea bass skin side down until it becomes crispy and comes away from the pan, turn over and turn out the heat and leave for 3-4 minutes depending on the size. It will cook in the residual heat. Remove and place skin side up in a serving dish and keep warm.

4. Bring the sauce back to the boil and add the leaves and the caramelised zest pour the sauce around the fish and garnish with coriander.

Serve this dish with roasted fennel and creamy mashed potatoes and a glass of champagne. Enjoy!

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