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Chefs Recipe: Pan Fried Seabass, Carrot & Vanilla with Mussel Butter Sauce by Chris Stanley of The Airds Restaurant

28th Mar 2017

Melt in the mouth food with a staggering view is what this exquisite 18th century lochside inn offers, sitting like a white jewel amidst the surrounding Argyll scenery. Perfectly remote and peaceful it was an apt setting for Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Kidnapped”.

We are delighted to share this wonderful sea bass recipe from Airds’ head chef Chris Stanley.

Ingredients (Serves 4)


4 Seabass fillets 200g Carrots 1/3 Vanilla pod
1 Shallot 1 Garlic Clove 125ml White wine
400g Fresh mussels 250g Spinach 250g Butter
4 Large potatoes for mash Seasoning to taste


In a large pot sweat off chopped shallot and garlic, add the white wine and the mussels, cover and leave for 3 to 4 mins until the mussels have opened. Drain off the mussels keeping the cooking liquor. Remove the mussels from the shells and refrigerate immediately.

To make the carrot puree, peel and finely chop the carrots and gently heat in a saucepan with 50g of the butter and 1/3 vanilla pod cut lengthways. Ensuring the pan is covered, allow to gently simmer on a low heat. Cook until the carrots are soft stirring occasionally. Once cooked remove the vanilla pod and blend thoroughly. If the mix is too thick, add a dash of milk.

Boil the potatoes for mash. Once the mashed potato is nearly ready, in a small pan take the mussel liquor and reduce to almost nothing. It should look like a glaze in the bottom of the pan. Then gradually whisk in the remaining butter a little at a time and check for seasoning. Place the sauce in a warm place until ready to use.

To cook the fish, preheat a heavy bottomed frying pan. In the hot pan add 2 tablespoons of oil and place the fish skin side down. After 1 minute or so the fish should start to crisp up around the edges, Turn the heat right down and continue cooking for a further 3 or 4 mins.

While the fish is cooking, sauté the spinach in a little butter and water, gently warm up the sauce putting the mussels back in.

To plate, spread the carrot and vanilla puree around the middle of the plate quite thickly. On top of that, place the mashed potato and then some sautéed spinach. Divide the mussels equally between the plates and drizzle the sauce around the outside of the puree. Finally place the fish on top of the spinach and serve immediately.

The Chef: Chris Stanley

Chris Stanley born in Hampshire – Head Chef at The Airds, has consistently worked at 3 Rosettes level for the majority of his career showing just how talented he is. His most recent position was at Hotel du Vin in Glasgow where he led a kitchen brigade and took a keen interest in developing the chefs of the future. Chris has been keen to work on the west coast of Scotland for a while to make full use of the amazing natural larder on our doorstep.  As a result Airds continues to maintain its international reputation.

The idea behind his food is that it should be uncomplicated allowing the natural ingredients to speak for themselves and allowing the flavours to come through without barriers – in other words ‘let the ingredients speak for themselves’.  He very much subscribes to the idea of sustainability and enjoys contributing towards the training and development of the next generation of chefs and as such was very quickly successful in setting up an apprenticeship scheme at The Airds.

The Restaurant: Airds Hotel and Restaurant, Port Appin, Argyll, PA38 4DF

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