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Wednesday Wind-down: Grilled Sea Bass with Balsamic Reduction and Pesto

balsamic-vinegarThis dinner can double as both a Wednesday Wind-down and a fancy weekend meal. Either way, it’s cheap, quick and gorgeous. For a quick evening supper, serve the fish with balsamic reduction, jarred or home-made pesto and sides of baby boiled potatoes and peas. For the weekend, the seabass, balsamic and pesto goes well with sauteed potatoes, honey and soy glazed carrots, and simple roast courgette.

Pesto and balsamic reduction together? Trust me, it works really well: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and unami all in the same mouthful, and still gentle enough to not overpower the fish.

Here’s the weekend version. I made this to feed two.

Ingredients: The Main

  • 2 seabass fillets
  • 2 dessert spoons jar or homemade pesto (CheapEats recipe here, try your own version, or take from a jar)
  • About 100mls balsamic vinegar
  • A squeeze of honey
  • 1-2 tsps brown or white sugar

Ingredients: Sides

  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into sticks
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 medium sized courgette, peeled and sliced into sticks
  • 3-4 medium potatoes, thinly sliced into rounds, unpeeled if organic
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • Salt, pepper, olive oil


  • Start with the carrots: coat the slices in two teaspoons honey, one teaspoon soy, and cook in the oven for about 30 mins on 180 degrees C.
  • At the same time, throw in the courgettes, tossed in olive oil, rock salt, and black pepper. About 25 mins, turn once.
  • Meanwhile, the potatoes: parboil the slices, then fry them in a large pan with butter, a crushed clove of garlic, some rock salt, and black pepper for about 10-15 mins. Turn occasionally.
  • As the potatoes cook, prepare the balsamic reduction by adding the sugar, honey, and vinegar to a pan (heavy bottomed if possible). Stir, bring to a boil, then lower heat and boil gently until it is reduced by about three-quarters: about seven minutes. It should be nice and thick now.
  • To cook the fish, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and simply grill it under a high heat for 5-7 mins, turning once.
  • Dot balsamic vinegar around the plates, which should be warm if possible. Put the fish in the centre and pour over some pesto (alternative decoration: sprinkle dots of balsamic and pesto around the fish, sprinkling over some very lightly buttered parsley instead). My food photography skills need some work, but it did look very good.
  • Make a decoration of the carrots and courgettes, serving with the sauteed potatoes on the same plate or (even better) on the side.

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