Sea Bream with Squash Velouté (Orata con Vellutata di Zucca)

In Italy at Villa Rosa di Nonna Rosa, I enjoyed sea bream with a squash velouté. I really liked this combination, so I decided to make this at home. Sea bream (orata) is a type of fish that dries out very quickly, so I decided to cook it sous vide. You could however also steam or pan fry the fish for this dish. Velouté is French for velvet, so the squash has to be pureed until it is velvety smooth. At Villa Rosa the velouté also included diced squash that was still al dente to give some texture to the sauce, which I did as well. Some fresh herb oil is used as a finishing touch, made from extra virgin olive oil and fresh rosemary, basil, and parsley.

A common issue with fish sous vide is that the cooking temperature is so low that it cools off too quickly. This recipe fixes that, by serving the squash velouté on top of the fish to keep it hot.


Serves 4

  • 4 sea bream fillets (you could substitute with other white fish such as grouper)
  • 600 grams (1.3 lbs) cleaned squash or pumpkin
  • 1 minced shallot
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary (needles only)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley (leaves only)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh basil (leaves only)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the vegetable stock

  • about 150 grams (.33 lb) each of onion, carrot, and celery


Season the fish with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and brush the fish lightly with olive oil to prevent the fish from getting stuck to the bag.

Vacuum seal the fish in a single layer. I’ve used individual pouches as otherwise it is difficult to fit the fish into the sous vide basin. Place the vacuum sealed fish in the refrigerator for at least one hour to allow the salt to penetrate into the fish, which improves the texture.

Chop the onion, carrot, and celery, and place in a pot with 750 ml (3 cups) of water. Bring this to a boil and simmer for an hour to make vegetable stock. You could also do this in half an hour in a pressure cooker.

In the meantime, peel and dice the squash. Use 2/3 for the velouté and make sure 1/3 are diced extra nicely. Add the peels and seeds of the squash to the vegetable stock, to get as much flavor as possible.

Sieve the vegetable stock after an hour of simmering.

You can use an (old but clean) tea towel to squeeze more vegetable stock out of the solids. This will make the stock cloudy, but that is not an issue as it will be mixed with pumpkin puree anyway.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pot, add the minced shallot, and stir over medium heat until the shallot is soft and fragrant.

Then add 2/3 of the diced pumpkin with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a dash of freshly grated nutmeg. Reserve the remaining 1/3 of diced pumpkin.

Cover with vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

Next puree the pumpkin with an immersion blender.

For a velouté it has to be completely smooth.

Add more vegetable stock if the velouté is too thick. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Combine the rosemary with 60 ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil in a blender and blend until the rosemary is quite fine.

The dish can be prepared up until this point.

To finish the dish, preheat the plates in the oven at 100C/220F. Gently bring the squash velouté to a boil, stirring to prevent it from burning. Then add the reserved diced pumpkin…

…and cook the pumpkin in the velouté, covered, until al dente, about 15 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Add more vegetable stock if it becomes too thick.

In the meantime, cook the sea bream sous vide for 10 minutes at 50C/122F. The cooking time is so short because the fish is so thin. Don’t worry if the 10 minutes are over before you are ready to serve, as you can keep the fish in the sous vide for at least half an hour without any issues. (Personally I do not even use a timer; if I put the fish in the sous vide at about the same time as the diced squash is added to the velouté, the fish will be done by the time the squash is done.)

Slice the parsley and basil and add this to the herb oil. You can also use the blender to chop the parsley and basil, but by using a sharp knife instead the flavor will remain more fresh.

Take the fish out of the bags and place with the skin side up on the preheated plates.

Remove the skin, which should come off relatively easily. (It is not a big deal if the fish doesn’t look as nice anymore, as it will be covered with squash velouté anyway.)

Cover the fish with squash velouté and drizzle with the herb oil. Serve at once.

Wine pairing

Due to the earthy flavor of the squash, it is nice to pair this with an aged dry white wine. Not an oaked one, but aged in the bottle for at least 5 years, and not with very high acidity, such as an Arneis or Soave. We enjoyed this with a 2013 Arneis. If you don’t own a wine cellar or wine cabinets where you can age the wine yourself, it may be difficult to procure an ged wine, as most shops only have the latest vintage in stock.


My version of chard lasagne (lasagne alle bietole) brings out the mild, earthy and slightly sweet flavor of chard as well as the crunchy texture of the stems.

5 thoughts on “Sea Bream with Squash Velouté (Orata con Vellutata di Zucca)

  1. I haven’t had sea bream in a long time, this looks like a fantastic recipe to have it again. I love velouté, I find that pushing the puréed pumpkin through a fine sieve makes it even more velvety. The herbed oil must really elevate the flavours in this dish.


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