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Marinated salt bream with roast tomatoes

This recipe works beautifully with bream but a very respectable version can be made with other white fish. If you're using a larger fillet than the one specified in the recipe, you can scale up the cure time and the quantity of cure. We wouldn't recommend using smaller fillets, however, as they can easily become too salty.


Mix the ingredients for the cure together thoroughly. Choose a non-metallic tray or dish in which the fish fillet will fit neatly. Sprinkle half the cure over the base of the dish, in a layer the width of the fish. Lay the fish over the cure, skin side down, and sprinkle the rest over it. Leave the fish to cure in a cool larder, or the fridge, for 6–8 hours. You could, at a push, leave it overnight (but not if you're planning a lie-in). Beyond 10 hours, it will become unpalatably salty. Then remove the fillet, rinse thoroughly, and immediately pat dry with a clean cloth.

Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes in quarters and scoop out the seeds. Arrange the tomatoes in an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with a little salt and the thyme sprigs and trickle with olive oil. Place in the oven and roast gently, at about 140°C/Gas mark 1 for 2–2½ hours, until the tomatoes are half-dried, half roasted, and nice and sweet. Remove and leave to cool completely in the dish.

Now prepare the fish by slicing from the tail end at an angle. Slice it like a side of smoked salmon, only thicker (5mm–1cm thick), cutting each slice away from the skin. Remove and discard any remaining pin or belly bones as you go.

Combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Add the pieces of sliced bream, along with the cooled roasted tomatoes and any juices from the dish, and toss together well. Leave, covered, in the fridge for at least 2 hours, and up to 4 or 5, so the flavours can marry and mingle.

Remove from the fridge an hour or so before serving and toss once more. Serve, sprinkled with a few fresh thyme leaves, with crusty bread or pitta to mop up the juices.

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  • 1 thick fillet black bream, weighing 400-500g, from a good-sized black bream (or 2 smaller fillets, skin on
  • 6 good ripe tomatoes large plums or medium round ones
  • A few sprigs of thyme, plus some thyme leaves to finish
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the cure:

  • 150g sea salt
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 bay leaves, finely shredded
  • 5g freshly ground black pepper

For the marinade:

  • 1 small red onion or 2 shallots, finely sliced
  • 1 tbp white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 4 tbsp good-quality olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, very finely sliced

This recipe is taken from...

River Cottage Fish