...including black (the least tasty), red from Europe and gilt-head, which for my money is the best, distinguished by a gold band above the eyes and mouth.
All have coarse, succulent and plump flesh, and its low cost when compared to turbot or sea bass is another plus.
For the clams, I recommend the Manila variety, which are known in French as Palourdes. They have a pretty marbled shell and are excellent for steaming.
The third element, samphire, is the perfect match for fish. There are two types – marsh and rock – but only the former is widely available. Marsh samphire has vibrant green stalks, similar to baby asparagus, with a distinctively crisp and salty taste. It can be used raw in salads, although its saltiness means it's best boiled or steamed for a few minutes.
Rock samphire is less palatable, with a rather unpleasant smell and flavour. Occasionally you can find jars of pickled samphire in gourmet shops.
Steamed sea bream with clam and samphire vinaigrette
250g surf clams
50ml white wine
50ml white wine vinegar
150ml extra-virgin olive oil
1tbsp lemon juice
4 x 160g sea bream fillets
50ml olive oil
1tbsp chopped chives
1tbsp chopped parsley
Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the samphire and cook for 3 minutes, then transfer to cold water.
Put a saucepan on a high heat. When hot, add the clams and white wine, put the lid on the pan and cook for one minute. The steam from the wine should open the clams quickly. Take them out of the pan and reserve the cooking liquor, then remove the clams from their shells. Strain the cooking liquor through a fine sieve, add the white wine vinegar then whisk in the extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice.
Place a large steamer over a high heat until it is steaming well. Rub the fish fillets with the olive oil and season them lightly before placing them on a small tray and steaming for 4-6 minutes.
Meanwhile, gently warm the dressing and add the clams, samphire, chives and parsley.
Remove the fish from the steamer and peel the skin off each fillet.
Place them neatly on serving plates and top with the dressing.
2010, Kooyong Clonale Chardonnay, Mornington Peninsula, Australia, L'Art Du Vin, £14.46
Aromas of lemon and lime balanced with notes of grilled nuts, white peach and cream.
The Honours, 58a North Castle Street, Edinburgh. Visit www.thehonours.co.uk or call 0131 220 2513.