We are treated to the rare sight of James Bond (Roger Moore) ordering dinner on screen in For Your Eyes Only (1981). Dining with Kristatos (Julian Glover) at the casino in Corfu, he orders Preveza prawns, savara salad and bourdeto.
As is often the case in the books, Bond ‘eats local’, bourdeto being a speciality of the island. There are many variations of the dish, but in essence it’s fish cooked in a spicy sauce. Traditionally, scorpion fish is used (as it is for another Bondian dish, bouillabaisse), but if unavailable may be substituted with a variety of other fish. For the recipe below, I’ve used sea bass.
The question of whether or not tomatoes are included in the dish is a matter of debate, with some contending that bourdeto isn’t true bourdeto with them. In the spirit of compromise, I’ve left out the tomatoes, except for a dollop of tomato purée to enhance the dish’s flavours and colour.
- 1-2 whole fish, depending on size (if using sea bass, cook one fish per person), cleaned and with heads and tails removed
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and sliced thinly into rings
- 1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 2 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 400ml freshly boiled water
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 tsp finely chopped parsley
- 1 tsp finely chopped oregano
- 1 tsp finely chopped red chillies
- Pinch each of salt and black pepper
- 2 lemon wedges
Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan-assisted; 400F). In a deep, oven-proof frying pan, heat the olive oil over a medium flame. Fry the onion and garlic until they soften. Add the paprika and cayenne pepper and stir to combine with the onions. Add 200ml of water, tomato purée and the salt and pepper, mix well and allow the sauce to simmer for 3-4 minutes until it is almost dry, the liquid having reduced by about three quarters.
Stir in the remaining water and the lemon juice. Lay the fish in the pan, coating the fish with the sauce and onions. Sprinkle the parsley, oregano and chilli over the fish. Place the pan uncovered in the oven. (If the pan isn’t oven-proof, transfer the sauce and fish to an oven dish.) Cook for 20 minutes.
Remove the pan or dish from the oven (checking that the fish is cooked). Garnish with lemon wedges and serve with fried potatoes, rice or crusty bread.