Steamed bass and tomatoes with sardine and tomato ketchup

Steamed bass and tomatoes with sardine and tomato ketchup

Fish Kitchen
David Loftus

Bass really benefits from steaming, though it’s rarely cooked this way. I love the idea of creating sauces and dressings from the cooking process. Here the juices from the tomatoes and fish produce a wonderful, tasty dressing as they steam together with a little olive oil. And I’ve added tinned sardines to my ketchup recipe – to raise the ever-popular tomato ketchup to new fishy heights!


Quantity Ingredient
2 bass fillets, pin-boned
2 ripe plum tomatoes
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1 rosemary sprig, chopped, leaves only
olive oil
caster sugar
cornish sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Sardine and tomato ketchup

Quantity Ingredient
olive oil
2 red onions, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1kg ripe tomatoes, chopped
75g caster sugar
2 bay leaves
1 rosemary sprig, chopped, leaves only
200ml red wine vinegar
240g good-quality tinned sardines in tomato sauce

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
a large handful rocket leaves


  1. First make the ketchup. Heat a large pan over a medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. When hot, add the onions and garlic and cook for 2 minutes until the onions start to turn translucent. Add the tomatoes, sugar, bay leaves and chopped rosemary to the pan and cook for 15 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down. Continue to cook until the tomato liquid has reduced right down, almost to nothing.
  2. Now add the wine vinegar and sardines and boil for 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaves.
  3. Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth, then pass though a sieve into a bowl. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as required. Transfer the ketchup to a clean container and allow to cool. (This ketchup will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days or you can freeze it for up to a month.)
  4. Heat up your steamer (or steamer basket over a pan of simmering water). Take 2 pieces of baking parchment and fold and scrunch up the sides slightly.
  5. Bring a large pan of salted water to a simmer over a medium heat. Plunge the plum tomatoes into the water for 20 seconds, then transfer to a bowl of iced water. Lift them out and peel away the skins.
  6. Halve the tomatoes lengthways and sprinkle over the garlic, rosemary and olive oil, then season with salt, pepper and sugar. Place the tomatoes on the parchment in the steamer and steam for 5 minutes.
  7. Season the bass fillets, oil them all over and then lay, skin side up, on the parchment in the steamer with the tomatoes. Steam for 6 minutes until cooked.
  8. Lift the fish and tomatoes on the parchment from the steamer. Using a spatula, carefully transfer them to warm plates. Drizzle over all the cooking juices from the parchment and serve, with peppery rocket leaves and the ketchup on the side.
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