In my head, this is always called Bella Lugosi, but that is just because I’m a dimwit. In the real world this, apparently, is the traditional Christmas-Eve meal that they eat in Spain. It is certainly one for the special occasion – first of all, because among its many ingredients is saffron, which always sets the alarm bells ringing, but also because in the UK at least, Sea Bream is not a cheap fish. I spent £9.30 on two fish at Soper’s, my wonderful local fishmongers.

On the plus-side, as well as being a hearty, tasty dish, it is also very easy to make.  And apart from the par-boiling of the potato, you could call it a one-pot meal.

I have adapted this recipe from one which used to be on the BBC Good Food website, and Sophie Grigson and William Black’s Fish.


  • 300g new potatoes
  • 2 small red onions
  • 2 sea bream
  • 5 small tomatoes (I used sundream tomatoes)
  • 1/2 lemon cut into sections
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 100ml white wine
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp Halen Môn sea salt
  • a pinch of saffron
  • a handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • a good glug of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp hot water

Par-boil the potatoes for 15 minutes or so. This can be done a day ahead.

Set the oven to 200C.

Slice the potatoes and onions and layer in an oven-proof dish. Put the sea bream on top, and find room in the dish for the lemon, bay-leaves and tomatoes.

Pour the white wine over the fish and vegetables.

Next, in a pestle and mortar, make a paste from the garlic, salt, parsley, saffron and olive oil. Loosen the paste with a spoonful of hot water.

Spread the paste over the fish.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.