– recipe –

bream with risotto


bream with risotto

RECIPE: Cape bream with mushroom barley risotto

Passionate home cooking enthusiast & Fish With A Story supporter Justin Major shares this recipe that proves bream is anything but boring. four elements come together beautifully in this vibrant dish which showcases use of the whole fish from head to tail.



Prep time: 90 minutes

Cooking time: 5–10 minutes

Works well with: any Fish With A Story

Quick eats, Leftovers


8 Cape Bream With A Story, filleted with bones and heads retained for stock – Watch: How to fillet whole fish like a pro 

fish stock

barley risotto

saffron foam

overnight pickled shallots

flour, for dusting

micro greens, to garnish


Fish stock

2 carrots diced

1 large leek sliced thin

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

½ onion diced

5 peppercorns

2 cloves

3 all spice berries

1 bay leaf

200 ml dry white wine

50 g butter

15 ml olive oil



  1. Split the fish heads and soak it with the bones for an hour in water to remove any excess blood. Rinse well.

  2. Saute the carrots, leeks and onion in olive oil and butter, sweat but don't brown the veggies.

  3. Season with a pinch of salt and add in the white whine. Add the bones and cook for 5–8 minutes on a medium heat until you see the white protein forming around the bones. Press the bones down and fill with boiling water until just covered.

  4. Add in the remaining aromatics then cover and gently simmer for 20 minutes skimming any proteins that may rise to the surface. After 20 minutes let it steep for a further 10 minutes and strain through a fine mesh strainer. 


Barley risotto

fish stock (reserve 250 ml for the foam)

1 large leek sliced thin

½ onion diced

3 cloves of garlic, crushed  

30 ml olive oil

4 sprigs of thyme

350 g rinsed pearl barley

400 g finely diced portobello mushrooms

100 ml double cream



  1. Saute the onion and leeks until soft.

  2. Add in the pearl barley and continue to saute for a few minutes.

  3. Add the diced mushrooms and garlic and cook until soft.

  4. Add the fish stock a ladle at a time ensuring that the liquid has been absorbed before adding more.

  5. After about an hour the barley is fully cooked. Remove from the heat and stir in the double cream.


Saffron foam

250 ml fish stock

pinch of saffron

100 ml double cream

1 large leek sliced thin



  1. Steep the saffron in the warm stock for 15 minutes.

  2. Add into a saucepan and reduce by half.

  3. Whisk in the double cream.

  4. Using a stick bender, angle the pot and blend at high speed to froth. The natural gelatin from the fish bones helps to stabilise the foam.

Overnight pickled shallots

12 peeled shallots, sliced in half down the length

200 ml white vinegar

350 ml water

½ teaspoon coarse sea salt

½ teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon black peppercorns 

1 bay leaf

50 g light brown sugar



  1. Add the peeled shallots into a sterilised glass jar.

  2. Add the remaining ingredients into a sauce pan and simmer until the sugar and salt have dissolved.

  3. Pour over the shallots, seal and let cool overnight.

To assemble:

  1. Season the Cape Bream fillets and lightly dust with flour.

  2. Pan fry on a medium heat skin side down for 4 minutes, then flip and cook for a further 1 minute.

  3. Serve over the risotto and garnish with the saffron foam, pickled onions and micro greens.

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