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Blackened sea bass with scotch bonnet sauce

Main BBQ
Serves 4
Prep 15 min
Cook 30 min
Marinate 1 hr+

This is meant to be enjoyed like tacos, where you pile the fish and condiments into tortillas. The fish on its own, with its deep-flavoured, black garlic marinade, will also work a treat with only a squeeze of lime for company, but the dipping sauce is so good, and easy, it would be a shame not to make that, too. In fact, you may well end up hooked on the stuff and find yourself wanting to eat it with all sorts.


4 small sustainably sourced sea bass (250-300g each), cleaned, scaled and patted dry (or sea bream, black bream or similar firm-fleshed fish)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
30g black garlic cloves (about 15)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 scotch bonnet chilli, deseeded
1-2 limes, zest finely grated, to get 1 tsp, and juiced, to get 2 tbsp
½ tsp soft light brown sugar
1 tbsp pul biber (Turkish aleppo chilli flakes or ½ tbsp of regular chilli flakes)
60ml olive oil
1 tsp flaked sea salt, plus extra to season
corn tortillas
1 scotch bonnet chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
5g spring onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp lime juice
10g mint leaves
10g coriander leaves
2 spring onions, finely sliced on an angle
flaked sea salt, to taste


  1. Put all the marinade ingredients in the small bowl of a food processor and blitz to a smooth paste. Season the fish inside and out with salt. Set half the marinade aside for serving and rub the rest all over the fish and inside the cavity. Leave to marinate for at least an hour, or overnight.
  2. Mix all the ingredients for the dipping sauce in a small bowl with a good pinch of flaked sea salt. Mix all the ingredients for the herb salad in a medium bowl.
  3. Drizzle each fish on both sides with the oil and put on the barbecue over a medium heat. Grill for six to seven minutes on each side, until cooked through with good char marks. Take care when lifting the fish off the grill, because the skin may stick (I find it best to ease them off gently with a metal spatula). Cover the fish tightly with foil, to keep warm, while you toast the tortillas.
  4. Put a large, cast-iron pan on the barbecue over the hottest coals and, once very hot, lay as many tortillas as will fit in the pan at a time and toast for a minute or so on each side, until warmed through and nicely charred on both sides.
  5. Open the foil parcels, transfer the fish to a large serving plate and serve hot with the tortillas, dipping sauce, herb salad and reserved black garlic marinade.