Main course

Sea bass with Jerusalem artichoke purée

So far as food heroes go, Mark Dodson is a dark horse. You don’t see him on TV, there is no series of eponymous cook books (a single book exists), and he is not tweeting in every spare minute. Dodson gives off the air of a man who just gets on with it. 

The thing is, when Mark Dodson gets on with it, magical things happen. It was he who was the head chef at The Waterside at Bray when it achieved its third Michelin star. The Watersaide was one of the first two restaurants in the UK to get three stars, and remains one of only five holding that accolade in 2018. 

After the Waterside, he ran The Mason’s Arms in Devon, where he gained a Michelin star in 2006 after just 6 months of operation. The Mason’s Arms continues to hold the award with Dodson at the pass. 

Mark Dodson on the cover of his book ‘This is Mine’

When we were looking for something new to do with sea bass, we hit on this Mark Dodson recipe from the Great British Chefs web site. As you would expect from a triple-star chef, this is not the easiest thing in the world to knock out, but the lessons learned are worthwhile. We tried the dish with soaked fresh cannellini beans, and that does not work so well – best go with the canned and cooked beans that Dodson suggests in the first place.

Jerusalem artichokes are not the sort of thing you run across in Tesco, but Fine Food Specialist will sort you out in the season (October–April). They keep for ages if refrigerated. 

The Mason’s Arms can be found at Knowstone, South Molton, Devon EX36 4RY. Call 01398 341231 for a booking. 

Sea bass with Jerusalem artichoke purée

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Serves: 4
Cooking Time: 1h 30 mins


  • For the fish:
  • 4 sea bass fillets
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil
  • For the purée
  • 200g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled
  • 150ml double cream
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the sauce
  • 200ml red wine
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme
  • 50g shallots, sliced
  • 200ml stock (the original recipe uses beef; we use chicken so a non-red meat eater can enjoy the dish)
  • For the roast garlic
  • 1 head of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • For the beans
  • 200g canned and cooked white beans (any variety will do)
  • 20ml double cream
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Rocket, shredded and deep fried



Heat an oven to 180˚C.


For the Jerusalem artichoke purée, place the Jerusalem artichokes in a pan and add enough water to cover. Place over a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Add a pinch of salt and leave to cook slowly for an hour until the artichokes are tender (watch out below because you need to be making a jus at the same time). Once the artichokes are soft, drain well, and then place back in the pan with the double cream. Bring to the boil and reduce slightly. Season to taste and blend until smooth. If they are still a bit lumpy, pass them through a sieve. This can be done in advance, chilled and stored for a day or so, and reheated to serve. Otherwise, keep warm.


For the red wine jus, place a large pan over a low heat. Add the red wine, thyme and shallots and cook until almost completely dry. Add the and reduce again until a syrup consistency is achieved. This takes about an hour to do, so it is helpful to do it along with the artichokes.


Muddle up a head of garlic in your hands so the cloves separate but do not break. Wrap the garlic in foil with a little olive oil and place on a bed of sea salt on a baking tray. Place in the oven for 20 mins.


For the sea bass, heat the oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat. Once the pan is very hot, add the sea bass fillets, skin-side down, and cook until the skin is crispy (about 3 mins). Turn the fillets over, season, and cook for a 10 seconds or so, and then switch the heat off. The heat in the pan will finish the cooking.


Meanwhile, heat the beans in a pan with the double cream until boiling. Remove from the heat and season a little.


Pass the red wine jus through a sieve and set aside.


To serve, arrange the beans in the centre of each plate and lay the fillets of sea bass on top. Drizzle the fish in the red wine jus and spoon the purée around the outside of each plate. Garnish with the roasted garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and deep-fried rocket. Serve immediately.

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