Friday, September 9, 2011

Roasted sea bream with coriander and cherry tomatoes

Luísa woke up early. She experienced the silence through all of the house. Occasionally she liked being alone. The maids - Joana and Juliana - had both requested some time off. Jorge wasn't around. He had gone away for a few days in one of his many business trips. Luísa did not hesitate to say yes to the request of the maids. Juliana had gone to the doctor and then she would go visit her Aunt Vitória. Joana's request may have been related with some boyfriend, but Luísa didn't bother to ask. It was nice to be home alone. Able to manage her time without giving any satisfaction, without having someone ask her things or having to make decisions for others.

She began by making coffee and drinking it in a big cup. She loved the intense and slightly roasted aroma of coffee. She shared this taste with her beloved childhood friend, Leopoldina, which unfortunately due to the pressing requests of Jorge she had stopped visiting. It didn't befit her mingling with a woman with a nickname such as "bread and butter", who was known to have several lovers. On the contrary, D. Felicidade distasted coffee. She would say every time she visited her: "- Dear, I prefer tea. You know that coffee and me don't get along very well!"

After drinking her coffee, she sat on the couch and spent the morning reading one of those novels that she loved so much. This one had been offered to her by her cousin Basílio, just before he had gone living to France. The books were a way to make her dream, a way to be transported into another dimension, a way of living and experiencing a little the lives of others.

She would have lunch at home. She could have arranged a lunch in Chiado with Sebastião or even with Julião - her old good friends - but she decided otherwise. She preferred to stay at home and cook. She loved to cook although she never did since she had married. Before her mother had died, she cooked delicious dishes. She went to the fridge and saw a beautiful sea bream with its mouth open that she thought was smiling. It was what she would cook for lunch.

1 sea bream or other fish suitable for roasting in the oven
3 garlic cloves
1/2 lemon
10 to 12 cherry tomatoes
1 sprig of coriander
1 stalk of rosemary
olive oil
salt and peppercorns to taste

1. Stuff two cloves of garlic (with the its peel), rosemary and lemon in the belly of the fish.

2. To prepare the wrapper, place a sheet of parchment paper on top of an aluminum foil sheet. On top of the parchment paper sheet, place a sprig of coriander and then on top of that place the fish after being seasoned with salt.

3. Sprinkle the fish with chopped garlic and a sprig of cilantro. Place the cherry tomatoes around the fish. Sprinkle with peppercorns.

4. Sprinkle with olive oil and close the wrapper. Put it into a preheated oven for 40 minutes.

Luísa enjoyed her lunch. The fish was juicy. So delicious that she had decided to cook this recipe more often.

I was inspired in the novel Primo Basílio ("Cousin Bazilio") by Eça de Queirós to write this short story.

[ Originally published in Portuguese as Besugo assado no forno com coentros e tomate cereja ]


  1. I love the photos of the fish - he looks so funny with the big eye and open mouth!! I very rarely cook whole fish, but I should try more often to get all the flavor out of the fish!

  2. Hi Dani,

    thanks for your nice words. You are right! The whole fish helps bringing all the flavors to the dish. The particular kind of fish you cook is also very important. Here in Portugal is very common to grill (or to roast) the entire fish.

    Best regards,