Recipe: Sea bass with spinach and beurre blanc

Our recipe of the month for September is a simple classic from Rick’s 2005, French Odyssey – sea bass fillets with spinach and beurre blanc. The perfect dinner party dish to wow your friends and family – or you can look forward to trying it on our menus in Marlborough or at St Petroc’s Bistro in Padstow.

Rick says: ‘Beurre blanc, the classic sauce from Nantes on the Loire made with finely chopped shallots, butter and a little white wine vinegar but not too much to spoil a glass of cold Muscadet or Sancerre’

Serves 4


4 sea bass fillets, about 150g each
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
400g spinach

For the beurre blanc:
50g shallots, very finely chopped
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons dry white wine or Vermouth, such as Noilly Prat
6 tablespoons water or fish stock
2 tablespoons double cream
175g chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces


Season the fish with a little salt and pepper just before cooking. Heat the frying pan until very hot, then add 2 tbsp oil. Lay the fish fillets in the pan, skin-side down. As soon as it goes in, press each fillet down with your fingers or a fish slice to stop it from curling up.

Reduce the heat to medium, then leave the fish to cook for 3-4 mins, undisturbed, until you can see that the flesh has cooked two-thirds of the way up and the skin is crisp and brown.

Flip the fillets over, then fry on the flesh side for about 2 mins until just done, basting the skin with the oil in the pan as it cooks.

For the beurre blanc, put the shallots, vinegar, wine or vermouth, water or stock into a small pan and simmer until reduced to about 4 tablespoons. Add the cream and boil until reduced a little more. Lower the heat and gradually whisk in the butter, a few pieces at a time, until the sauce is thick and creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Be sure to clean the spinach thoroughly to remove any grit from the leaves. Heat a large pan with a knob of butter. Add the spinach – the leaves touching the base of the pan will wilt very quickly, so stir occasionally to ensure all of the raw leaves make contact with the base. Season with salt. Once the spinach has just about wilted, remove the pan from the heat and strain off any excess liquid.

Happy cooking!

Recipe from © Rick Stein’s French Odyssey, BBC Books, 2005