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Sea Bass

Sea bass are a top-of-the-range fish and a favourite with Breton chefs. Elegant and delicate, their lean, firm flesh can be cooked in a variety of appetising ways.

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Where are sea bass caught?

This is a wild fish of open, rough seas but can also be found in estuaries. Around 150 fishermen go out in one-man boats to test their skills against the waves, with one hand on the tiller and the other holding their fishing line. They have formed themselves into an association, called Ligneurs de la Pointe Bretagne (Line fishermen of the Breton Peninsula). As soon as sea bass is caught, the fish is gutted. It’s not subjected to the stress associated with net fishing so it’s not spoilt in the same way.

When can you enjoy them?

Sea bass fishing is regulated. In northern Brittany the catch for line fishermen must not exceed five tonnes and they’re not allowed to fish in February and March. In southern Brittany, fishing for sea bass is allowed all year round.

Some top restaurants for sea bass

Sea bass is the favourite fish of top Breton restaurateurs. In many cases they work with their own preferred line fisherman.

  • At L’Amaré in Vannes, Nicolas Sfintescu is a self-taught, Ducasse-trained chef who serves a seafood cuisine that’s exciting and delicious.
  • A few restaurants, including IMA in Rennes and Le Petit Hôtel du Grand Large in Portivy, offer ikejime bass, an age-old Japanese technique used by a few Breton fishermen. This involves destroying the fish’s nervous system to prevent it from experiencing any suffering, making the quality of its flesh really excellent.
  • Braised, sautéed or steamed, line-caught bass is served simply and deliciously by Nathalie Beauvais at the Jardin Gourmand in Lorient.

How are they prepared?

Because it has few bones and the flesh stays firm when cooked, sea bass can be grilled, poached, flambéed or stuffed. To make the most of this outstanding fish, all you have to do is cook it whole in the oven, sprinkled with a dash of olive oil. It’s not only tasty but non-fattening and rich in phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and vitamins. It has all the flavours of the sea and is crammed with healthy nutrients.

Where can you buy sea bass?

At the fishmongers, line fished sea bass can be recognised by the label attached to their gills, which shows the name of the boat and where it was caught. It is always sold whole in fishmongers.

  • In Ouessant where Ondine and Jean-Denis Morin fish for bass aboard their line fishing boat ‘Finis Terrae’. They sell it immediately, direct to the public, in Lampaul village square.
  • In Audierne, the capital of sea bass fishing, line fishermen bring home their catch, which is then sold in the best fishmongers’ shops of the Breton peninsula. As soon as it’s out of the water, it’s sold by the fish wholesaler ‘Les viviers d’Audierne’.

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