Chef Psilakis:Striped Bass Plaki


This dish is much better when made with a whole fish, but you could also use halibut tail or a big piece of cod. There are lots and lots of vegetables in here that meld with the garlic-herb-citrus "flavors and the delicious pan juices that develop as the fish steam cooks. Serve over rice or orzo to serve an even bigger crowd.


2 to 3 pounds whole sea bass, black bass, blue fish, or weakfish, gutted and scaled, gills removed
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
About 1 teaspoon dry Greek oregano
1 lemon, thinly sliced
6 large sprigs thyme
6 large sprigs rosemary
4 fresh bay leaves or 8 dried leaves
16 whole cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
3 plum tomatoes, cut into rough wedges
2 Idaho potatoes, quartered lengthwise and cut crosswise into big chunks
1 large zucchini, thickly sliced on a diagonal
1 Spanish or sweet onion, cut into thick julienne
About 16 Kalamata olives, pitted
Small handful torn fresh herbs, such as dill, mint, and/or parsley
1/3 cup capers
1 1/2 cups white wine
2 tablespoons Garlic Purée or cold, unsalted butter
2 lemons, cut into wedges, for serving


Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the fish well under cool running water. Pat dry thoroughly.

Film a large roasting pan with the olive oil and place the fish in the center. Season liberally with kosher salt, pepper, and a big pinch of oregano inside and outside. Stuff the cavity with about half the lemon slices, 4 sprigs each of the thyme and rosemary, the bay leaves, and a few garlic cloves.

Cover the fish with overlapping slices of the red onion, then top with the remaining lemon slices. Scatter the tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, Spanish onion, olives, and the remaining thyme, rosemary, and garlic around the fish. Scatter the fresh herbs and capers over all. Season the fish liberally with salt, pepper, and oregano, and pour in the wine. Cover the pan with foil, sealing well.

Steam-bake until the fish is "flaky and cooked, and all the vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes. (If you push a metal skewer into the center of the fish for a moment, then hold the tip against your lip, it should feel somewhere between warm and hot.)

Discard the herb sprigs if you like, and carefully transfer the fish and all the vegetables to a big platter. Whisk the Garlic Purée or butter into the pan juices until melted, and drizzle over and around the dish. Squeeze the lemon wedges over the top.