Ixta Belfrage’s brown butter sea bass, chicken and ‘nduja bake, and whipped yoghurt with strawberry

Give your summer cooking a twist with three dishes from Mezcla, the new cookbook from Ixta Belfrage, which reflects her Brazilian, Mexican and Italian heritage

Ixta Belfrage: in her new book Mezcla, she shares recipes inspired by Italy, Brazil, Mexico and beyond. Picture: Stuart Simpson

Chicken, pineapple and ’nduja bake

I love the combination of sweet and savoury, and there is no greater union than that of pork and pineapple. The pork here comes in the form of ’nduja, a spreadable chilli-spiked sausage from Calabria. Add chicken, pineapple, chipotle and tangerine to the mix and you’ve got yourself a party.

Get ahead by marinating the chicken in the ’nduja and chipotle paste up to two days ahead, but don’t mix in the onion and garlic until you’re ready to bake. I use tangerines over oranges as they have a more complex, floral flavour, but feel free to use oranges if that’s easier (use fresh fruit though, not juice from a bottle or carton).

If your tangerines/oranges aren’t particularly sweet, you may want to add some maple syrup or honey – do this when you add the stock or water.

Ingredients, serves four

4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs, at room temperature

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed with the side of a knife

1 medium onion, halved and very thinly sliced on a mandolin

Half a large, extra-ripe pineapple, peeled (300g)

4 sweet tangerines, or two oranges, squeezed to get 100ml juice

100ml chicken bone broth, stock or water

2 tbsps double cream

5g fresh coriander

1 lime, cut into wedges

For the ‘nduja and chipotle paste

50g ’nduja paste/spread

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp tomato purée or paste

Half tsp chipotle flakes

Half tsp paprika

Three quarter tsp fine salt

About 20 twists of freshly-ground black pepper

"Get ahead by marinating the chicken in the ‘nduja and chipotle paste up to two days ahead.“ Picture: Yuki Sugiura


1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan/200C.

2. Put all the ingredients for the paste into a large bowl and mix together. Add the chicken, garlic and three-quarters of the sliced onion and mix well so everything is coated evenly.

3. Tip the onions and garlic into a 28cm ovenproof cast-iron skillet or similar-sized baking dish and spread out. Place the chicken thighs on top, skin-side up and spaced apart.

4. Cut the pineapple into four rounds, then cut each round into quarters, removing the hard core. Add the pineapple to the bowl with the remnants of the paste, mix to coat with whatever's left there, then arrange the pineapple around the chicken.

5. Pour the tangerine juice around the chicken (don’t get the skin wet), then bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and pour the stock or water into the pan around the chicken (again, don’t get the skin wet).

6. Return to the oven for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is browned and crispy. If you have a blowtorch, use it to char the pineapple a little.

7. Drizzle the cream into the sauce. Toss the coriander and the remaining sliced onions together with a tiny bit of oil and salt, and arrange on top. Serve from the pan, with the lime wedges alongside.

“This recipe is very straightforward and requires very little hands-on cooking.” Picture: Yuki Sugiura

Brown butter sea bass with tangerine dipping sauce and lots of herbs

Don’t be put off by the longish ingredients list and method. Read through it once and you’ll realise this recipe is actually very straightforward and requires very little hands-on cooking.

This is a great interactive sharing dish; stuff pieces of fish into the lettuce leaves (fresh corn tortillas would be great, too), top with the herbs and dipping sauce, and let it trickle down your wrists as you eat with your hands. You’ll need four tangerines and two limes in total for this recipe. The dipping sauce can be made up to two days in advance.

Ingredients, serves two

1 x 800g sea bass, at room temperature

2 stalks of fresh rosemary

40g spring onions (about four thin ones)

Fine salt

1 baby gem lettuce, leaves separated

5g fresh mint leaves

5g fresh coriander leaves

5g fresh basil leaves

Lime wedges

For the citrus butter

40g unsalted butter

30ml olive oil

1.5 tbsp tangerine juice

2 tsp lime juice

3 cloves of garlic, skin left on and crushed with the side of a knife

1 tsp fine salt

About 20 twists of freshly-ground black pepper

For the tangerine dipping sauce

1.5 tsp pul biber (also known as Aleppo pepper; use red bell pepper flakes if you don’t like heat)

1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped

Quarter tsp finely-grated fresh ginger

Three quarter tsp tomato purée or paste

Quarter tsp fine salt

1.5 tbsp mild and light olive oil

40g sweet, ripe cherry tomatoes such as Datterini, very finely chopped

4 tbsp tangerine juice

2 tsps lime juice

Quarter tsp fish sauce or light soy sauce


1. Preheat the oven to 190C fan/210C.

2. Pat the sea bass with kitchen towel to make sure it’s as dry as possible. Transfer it to a 33 x 26cm non-stick high-sided baking tray, arranging it diagonally so it fits. The tray shouldn’t be much bigger than the fish, otherwise the citrus butter will burn.

3. Use a very sharp knife to make five diagonal slits in the fish. Season the cavity with quarter of a teaspoon of fine salt, then stuff with the rosemary and spring onions.

4. Put all the ingredients for the citrus butter into a small saucepan and place on a medium heat until the butter has melted. Pour over and around the fish.

5. Bake for 14 minutes (or longer if your fish is larger than 800g), then baste the fish well and turn the oven to the highest grill setting. Grill on the top shelf of the oven for four to six minutes, or until the skin begins to bubble and crisp. Keep a close eye, as some grills are much hotter than others.

6. While the fish is cooking, make the tangerine dipping sauce. Put the pul biber, garlic, ginger, tomato purée/paste and fine salt into a mortar, and pound with a pestle to a rough paste.

7. Heat the oil in a small saucepan on a medium heat for one minute, then pour the hot oil into the mortar. Stir together, then add the chopped tomatoes, tangerine juice, lime juice and fish sauce.

8. Once cooked, transfer the sea bass to a large platter with the browned citrus butter. Discard the garlic skins. Serve with the lettuce and soft herbs to make parcels with, and the dipping sauce and lime wedges alongside.

“If you’re feeling wild, serve with a caramelised roasted crumpet.” Picture: Yuki Sugiura

Whipped yoghurt with roasted strawberries and peanut fudge sauce

The lime-roasted strawberries and peanut fudge sauce are essentially a refined combination of peanut butter and jelly, and boy do they sing together! Here I serve them with a simple whipped yoghurt, but you could serve with plain yoghurt or shop-bought ice cream.

If you’re feeling wild, pile the whipped yoghurt, roasted strawberries and fudge sauce on top of a caramelised roasted crumpet, and dust with cocoa powder to offset the sweetness.

Ingredients, serves four

For the roasted strawberries

300g frozen strawberries, defrosted (frozen strawberries will produce a redder syrup, but you can use fresh strawberries – stalks removed and roughly chopped – just make sure they’re extra ripe)

50g caster sugar

Half a lime

2 cinnamon sticks, roughly broken

For the whipped yoghurt

150g mascarpone, fridge-cold

200g yoghurt, fridge-cold

Half tsp vanilla bean paste

1 tbsp maple syrup

For the peanut fudge sauce

50g smooth peanut butter

1.5 tbsp cocoa powder

75ml maple syrup

1 tsp soy sauce (or tamari)

1.5 tbsp water


1. Preheat the oven to 200C fan/220C.

2. For the roasted strawberries, place all the ingredients in an ovenproof dish just big enough to fit the strawberries in a single layer. They should be snug, but not piled on top of each other. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring halfway. Set aside to cool.

3. Place the mascarpone, yoghurt, vanilla paste and maple syrup in a large bowl and whisk together until completely smooth. Keep the bowl in the fridge until ready to serve.

4. For the fudge sauce, whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth. You may need to add more water or maple syrup, depending on the thickness of your peanut butter. You’re looking for a smooth, thick but pourable consistency.

5. In individual glasses, layer the chilled yoghurt with the warm strawberries and the fudge sauce and serve.

Mezcla is published by Ebury Press on July 7, price £26 hardback. Follow the author on Instagram, @ixta.belfrage