Nothing says summer like lovely local seafood on the braai and a glass of Kelp Coast wine in hand. Enter my recipe for grilled Santer fish with Italian flavours – just in time to welcome in the warmer months.
I was gifted these beautiful pearly Santer fish by Greenfish – one of my preferred seafood suppliers in Cape Town (you can also see the previous recipe I developed for them here). A delicate fish with a pink hue, Santer hold up well to cooking whole and make for an appetising lunch or dinner spread when served with roasted seasonal veggies and a big salad of peppery rocket and crisp radicchio. If you can’t source Santer, ocean or reef fish like Carpenter, Cape Bream, Red Roman or Stumpnose will work beautifully too.
Caught off the coast of Struisbaai by local fishers, the Santers arrived at my door gutted, scaled and perfectly packaged with their own ice packs for guaranteed freshness and longevity. Wanting to showcase the fish sans fancy flavours, I roasted them with lemon, rosemary and olive oil, serving up the Santer with grilled aubergine and fennel and a prized bottle of Fryer’s Cove Bamboes Bay Sauvignon Blanc. One of the most complex Sauvignon Blancs to come out of the West Coast, Bamboes Bay is created from late-ripening vineyards planted on the very periphery of the Atlantic Ocean, meaning cold nights and sea mists to temper the warmth of the area. Small berries yield a vibrant mix of clean herbaceous and tangy passion fruit aromas, with the wine’s marine origins found in kelp notes and subtle minerality.
In terms of the styling and photography featured in this post, I’ve been getting more involved in the concept of still life’s – taking food imagery and turning it into an art form. My late father’s old candelabra provided a little drama while these beautiful crystal wine glasses and vintage cookbook gifted to me by Dawid’s mother set the scene.
For this recipe, I roasted the Santer but next time around I’d love to cook them over the coals instead. Whole fish is particularly simple to braai especially when using a hinged grid lined in foil. Stuff the belly cavity with plenty of sliced lemon and rosemary and secure the fish with string. Rub the (scaled) skin with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and grill!
Grilled Santer Fish with Italian Flavours
Prep time: 20 mins /Cook time: 25-30 mins /Serves: 4-6
You will need:
- 2 medium-sized fish, gutted and scaled
- 1 large lemon, sliced
- 1 large fennel bulb, sliced
- 2-4 aubergines, sliced
- 2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 2-3 fat cloves of garlic, sliced
- Olive oil
- Coarse ground sea salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Using a sharp knife, make three diagonal incisions into both sides of each fish. Stuff these cavities with lemon slices , half the garlic slices and half the rosemary and season the skin with salt and pepper. Repeat with each fish’s belly cavity. Line a baking sheet or roasting dish with baking paper and drizzle over a little olive oil. Lay the fish down and drizzle a little more oil over the top. Set the fish aside until ready to cook.
For the vegetables, arrange the sliced fennel and aubergine in a roasting dish and scatter over the remaining garlic and rosemary. Drizzle generously with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Place both the fish (on the upper tray) and the vegetables (on the lower tray) into the oven and roast for 25-30 minutes. The veggies may need a little longer. Once cooked, the skin of the fish should be crispy and the flesh inside white and flaking. Arrange a salad of leafy greens (rocket, radicchio, lamb’s lettuce) across a large platter and spoon over the roasted vegetables. Top the veggies with the fish and serve with extra lemon and a few glasses of Fryer’s Cove Bamboes Bay Sauvignon Blanc.