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Sea bass with spinach

Updated: Thu, 25 March, 2021

Fresh sea bass fillets baked under the blanket of creamy, cheesy spinach. Cooked this way, the fish is divinely succulent.

baked sea bass with spinach

Spinach mon amour

I have always loved spinach. I loved it even back in the day I had to cook it constantly for my daughter, a non-eater. Spinach was the only way to ensure she got her half-a-day of fruit and veg - it was pointless to hope for more.

Spinach was about the only vegetable that actually went down as opposed to being played with and pushed around the plate. I might have easily started to wholeheartedly detest it after that era but thankfully, the fondness endured.

Dirty spinach

I like to cook fresh spinach when it's in season. The best is the one in bunches picked up from the fruit and veg market: grown in soil and showing it by being covered in mud or sand. You have to wash it forever and spend half an hour picking it, but it’s so much tastier than the weirdly clean, anaemic leaves sold in supermarkets that also shrink from a pound to a spoonful when cooked.

Apart from being rich in iron it also has lots of vitamins C and K and some scientific soundings nutrients called ‘glycoglycerolipids’ which help protect the lining of the digestive system from inflammation. In essence: great stuff as Popeye knew.

sea bass fillets baked under creamy spinach blanket

Fish cooked in spinach sauce

The multitude of uses spinach can have in cooking is too overwhelming but this is perhaps one benefit of spinach not widely known of. If prepared as below, it keeps the fish succulent and moist even if you use previously frozen fillets.

That's the only danger of buying frozen fish, otherwise cost effective and sustainable. If only slightly overcooked, it gets dry and stringy, and generally not very nice. If you pan fry your defrosted fillets, it's easier to watch like a hawk for that moment when it just turns opaque. When you want to bake the bass or bream, it's more difficult.

Spinach can fix it and it has another advantage of being a one-pan fish and vegetable dish.

sea bass baked in spinach sauce

How to prepare creamy spinach

I like to start with the creamy sauce: double cream seasoned with nutmeg, salt and pepper, thickened with cornflour and further boosted with a little Parmesan, for thickness, and a bit more blue cheese, for flavour. This scant base cooks quickly and it's happy to receive either fresh, blanched spinach or frozen and thawed.

By all means start with spinach if you prefer and cook it till tender. Then season, add cream and cheeses but make sure to cook it long enough so the moisture is largely cooked off - it's not fish in spinach broth you want to be baking.

The preparation after that is minimal: lightly butter a dish, arrange the fillets skin down and copiously bury them under the spinach blanket. Baking time is 10-12 minutes for thin fillets and up to 20 for thicker ones.

What fish can be cooked like this?

Pretty much any fish you like can be cooked like this. Sea bass or sea bream has nice thickness, the ten-minute kind, but you can use haddock, cod, hake or similar white fish as long as the fillets are not enormously thick. Salmon or halibut will be very tasty too, if, again, the fillet is reasonably thin.

sea bass fillets

Skin on or skin off?

Entirely up to you. Bass and bream are usually cooked with the skin on but if you prefer skinless fillets, by all means do so. They might cook marginally shorter, of course, and make sure you don't lose the fish under the spinach blanket when you come to serve it! Skin holds it together and makes it easier to scoop the whole fillet with a fish slice.

Sea bass with spinach

Servings: 2Time: 35 minutes


  • 120ml (½ cup) double cream
  • a pinch of grated nutmeg
  • salt and black pepper
  • ½ tsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 100g (½ cup) blue cheese: Stilton, Gorgonzola or Roquefort
  • 300g (10 oz.) fresh spinach or frozen, thawed
  • a little lemon juice
  • 2 large sea bass fillets


1. Prepare the spinach sauce: bring the cream to the boil in a medium sized pan, add the grated nutmeg, season with salt and pepper. Let it bubble for a couple of minutes so it thickens and cooks down. Mix the corn flour with a little water and stir into the cream. Add the grated Parmesan, the blue cheese, stir well and cook for a few minutes over low heat.

2. If you are using fresh spinach wash it well and blanch or wilt it in the microwave, squeeze out the moisture and chop quite finely. If frozen, thaw it as much as time allows and squeeze out moisture.

3. Add the spinach to the cream sauce, squeeze in some lemon, stir well and cook for about 15 minutes until the spinach is tender and most of the moisture has cooked off.

cooking creamy spinach

4. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Lightly grease with butter the base of a baking dish large enough to contain the bass fillets laid side by side. Place the fillets in it and cover them with the sauce.

oven ready bass with spinach

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, depending how thick the fillets are. Lift the fillets with the spinach sauce onto plates with a large fish slice.

Originally published: Sat, 15 November, 2014

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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