Fish Provençale

Fish Provençale
Provençale? Yup! Inspired by the French Mediterranean province, I cooked up a dish of vegetables over which we had a piece of white fish and a Sauce Vierge, a light, Mediterranean sauce of olive oil and tomato.


Fish - any white fish will do. We had coley, but cod, haddock, pollock or halibut would do equally well. Good thick fillets of sea bass would be very nice. Butter for pan frying.

Veggies - a mix of courgette, peppers, onion, garlic, olives, olive oil, black pepper and sea salt should do fine. Add in some squash or root veggies if you like; I did. No need for tomato - it's in the sauce. Herbs? Dried oregano or marjoram is perfect.

Sauce - tomato, garlic, shallot, olive oil, black pepper and sea salt.


Oven on. Set to 180C.

For two, chop up a medium onion, courgette, pepper (bell pepper or capsicum, depending upon your proclivities), stick of celery and some squash pieces.

Toss into an roasting tray and slosh a load of olive oil over, freshly milled black pepper, sea salt and a little oregano or marjoram, or both. Mix well.

Later, we'll toss in a handful of black olives, but for now settle into the oven for about 30 minutes.


Meanwhile, make up the sauce ...

Sauce Vierge is a simple sauce of chopped tomato, olive oil, lemon juice and basil.

Sauce Vierge
Naturally, I did it a little differently using dill in place of basil, a flavour I love with coley, and the addition of pickled garlic and minced spring onion. Typically, shallot would be used, fresh garlic and sometimes capers are added - I left out the capers.

Tomatoes should be skinned and seeded, so slash an X into each tomato and plunge into boiling water for about a minute. Retrieve and drop into iced water.

Skin, quarter and de-seed. Chop fine.

Mince the white part of a spring onion, finely slice some garlic; pickled if you have it for less bite, and chop up some dill.

Mix together in a bowl with a generous amount of olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Pinch of sea salt.

Sauce Vierge can be served cold or hot. Either way, let the sauce sit for a short while to permit the lemon juice to macerate the sharp ingredients. Warm through in a frying pan if you like.

I wanted a chilled sauce over, so put the bowl of sauce in the fridge.


Prepare your fish by scaling, gutting and cleaning.

Fillet up and select a couple of good, thick fillets for this dish, pinch gently and slash the skin a few times.

When the veggies look just about done, toss in a handful of black olives.

Take a heavy based frying pan or skillet, melt some butter and place the fillets in skin side down.

Let the fish sit there for three to five minutes. Do not be tempted to move them about. When the flesh starts to turn opaque and a gentle shove of the pan proved the fillets not to be stuck, flip them over and lower the heat allowing the residual heat in the pan to do the majority of the cooking on the softer flesh side.


Spoon the veggies out onto a plate. Optionally, dress the plate with a few leaves: spinach and rocket is good.

Lay the fish over, skin side up for presentation and spoon the Sauce Vierge over.