Baked blue-eye with olive, lemon & spiced rice pilaf

This dish comes from my midweek-quickie list, but it certainly makes an impression.

I keep healthy stores of most of the ingredients – aside from the fish – so it’s something I can turn to readily. While the fish may seem to be the hero, this is all about the rice for me – spiced, buttery and laced with stock, lemony olive paste and fish juices. You can spice this up with chilli powder; and salmon or ocean trout fillets would work well instead of the blue-eye.

Baked blue-eye with olive, lemon & spiced rice pilaf.Credit:William Meppem. Styling by Hannah Meppem


80ml extra-virgin olive oil
1 small brown onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely diced
3 tsp cumin seeds
salt flakes
2 large ripe tomatoes, coarsely grated
300g basmati rice
2 heaped tsp smoked paprika
freshly ground black pepper
1 litre chicken stock, hot
80g butter
4 x 180g blue-eye trevalla fillets
10 cherry tomatoes on the vine
¼ bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves torn
½ lemon, to serve
thick natural yoghurt, to serve

For the olive paste
200g pitted green olives, finely chopped
¼ bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves finely chopped
150ml extra-virgin olive oil
½ lemon, preferably thin-skinned, finely sliced (including rind), each round cut into eighths

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C (200°C fan-forced).

2. For the olive paste, place about 150 grams of the olives with the parsley, oil, a little salt and about 10 grinds of pepper in a food processor and blitz. Tip into a bowl, then stir through the lemon pieces. Roughly crush the remaining olives to add a chunky texture, then stir through the mix.

3. Add 3 tbsp oil to a deep-sided ovenproof frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, cumin and half a teaspoon of salt to the pan. Sauté for 5 minutes.

4. Add the tomato and cook for 4 minutes, then follow with the rice, paprika and about 10 grinds of pepper. Cook for a minute or so, then add the stock, bring to a simmer and stir in the butter.

5. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes, then coat the fish in the olive paste and nestle into the rice. Spoon over any extra paste and scatter over the cherry tomatoes. Bake for about 12 more minutes until the fish is cooked.

6. Scatter over the parsley, squeeze over the lemon and serve with yoghurt on the side.

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