spanish snapper with saffron potatoes

i always have good intentions when it comes to eating fish and we manage a portion of oily fish (usually mackerel which i particularly love) most weeks. however, having not had any fish for a few weeks, i decided that we needed to try something different to get me on track.

i left the house with vague thoughts of sea bass – something thai and coconutty perhaps – but the fishmonger persuaded me that red snapper would be a good and slightly less predictable choice.

more predictable was my decision to roast it whole (less smelly than frying or grilling) and i took inspiration from a spanish recipe for besugo al horno - roasted bream - which is traditionally eaten on christmas eve. the gentle flavours of the saffron potatoes worked wonderfully with the snapper and were lifted by the tomatoes, parsley and lemon.

spanish snapper (serves 2-3)

1 red snapper, weighing c1kg

1 lemon, juiced and zested

500 waxy potatoes, evenly and thinly sliced

1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced

1 red pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced

20 cherry tomatoes, halved

2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped

a pinch of saffron strands

a handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped

½ teaspoon salt

½ a teaspoon chilli flakes

3 tablespoons olive oil

preheat the oven to 200c.

make a few deep slashes on either side of the snapper, across the thickest part, so that it cooks evenly. season the fish inside and out with salt, pepper and lemon juice, rubbing it in well.

arrange the potatoes, onions, peppers and tomatoes in a greased ovenproof dish that's large enough to take the bream as well.

in a mortar, pound the garlic, saffron, half the parsley, half the lemon zest, salt and chilli flakes into a paste. gradually add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 50ml of water. spoon this mix over the vegetables and bake in the oven for 40 minutes, until the potatoes are almost cooked.

lay the bream on top and spoon over the remaining olive oil. return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes more until the fish is just cooked through. scatter with the remaining parsley and lemon zest. serve immediately.