We often eat fish in restaurants but rarely cook fish at home. Cooking a whole fish? Cooking 6 whole fish?

We were having a dinner party for 25 and had a request: whole sea bass. What did we do? We went straight to Home Cooking with Jean-Georges by famed chef and author Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

The recipe here is for one fish, but we were able to do all six at once in our Jenn-Air® Pro-Style® Dual-Fuel Range with MultiMode® Convection. The oven space is 5.1 cubic feet, plenty of room for three racks of fish.

The convection is extremely important as the oven fills up. The system has two large fans that circulate the heat evenly and thoroughly throughout the oven. Although we used convection, we did not adjust the temperature or nominal cooking time. The recipe below suggests how to test for doneness which certainly varies from one fish to another. Our six fish were the same size and did, because of the convection, all cook in the same time.

The convection feature ensures a smooth airflow around the fish so that all six were cooking perfectly and at the same time. Fish is delicate and, if overcooked, the taste is sad. Here the cooking conditions, using the Convection Roast setting on the oven, made for moist and delicate fish on the plate.

In this recipe, Jean-George has you work with both the inside and outside of the fish. The inside is seasoned with salt and pepper plus lemon slices and parsley. On the outside, there is more lemon and parsley. Plus, the fish sits on a bed of fennel and tomatoes which are served on your plate as well. It’s a recipe requiring some composition both for cooking and for plating. But the final result is delectable.

Here is the recipe for you. The proportions here are for one fish to serve 4-5 people.

Roasted Whole Sea Bass with Fennel, Lemons, and Cherry Tomatoes

Yield: serves 4-5

Ingredients:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
    2 fennel bulbs, cored and sliced paper-thin
    2 teaspoons fennel seeds
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 whole black sea bass (about 4 pounds), gutted and scaled
    1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
    2 lemons, cut into very thin slices
    1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
    1 cup dry white wine

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Coat the bottom of a large roasting pan with oil. Arrange the fennel in an even layer to cover the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the fennel seeds over the fennel and season with salt and pepper. Center the fish on top.

Season the fish inside and out with salt and pepper. Scatter the tomatoes around the fish. Cover the fish with the lemon slices and parsley. Pour the wine around the fish and season everything with salt and pepper.

Roast until a knife pierces through the flesh of the fish with no resistance and the blade feels warm, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Serve at the table.

Source: Home Cooking with Jean-Georges Vongerichten [Potter, 2011]