The Fishmonger had all kinds of goodies yesterday including Chilean sea bass. I try not to gorge on this incredible fish (in fact, there isn't a single recipe for it on Beyond Salmon yet), but this was a special occasion and I couldn't resist. I decided to simply sear it in a hot pan and finish by roasting in the oven with cherry tomatoes. I don't think I've ever made a better 2 ingredient dish.
The rest of the dinner was assembled out of leftovers and kitchen mishaps. The batch of black-eyed peas that I cooked the day before got terribly mushy. I set the timer for 50 minutes and went to call the car insurance people, thinking that surely it won't take that long. How optimistic of me! They asked so many questions that it must have taken over an hour and my poor black-eyed peas got overcooked. What do you do if you overcook a pot of beans? You mash them! I drained and threw the whole batch in a food processor, added a little chopped garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Then buzzed it until smooth and voila -- you got yourself a lovely bean spread or a side dish if you heat it up in the oven and stir in a little butter.
The sauce was a mixture of pesto leftover from the Cinque Terre class this weekend and whipped cream. It turned into a fun basil sort of mousse -- kind of like an herb butter, but lighter and foamier in texture. After I plated the fish, I put a dollop of this stuff on top and it melted into a perfumy lava all over the fish.
So, here is to Lucas and many more good shopping trips!
Seared Chilean Sea Bass with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil Mousse
Fish substitutions: sable, halibut, striped bass (with skin), grouper, mahi
For the fish:
4 Chilean sea bass fillets without skin (6 oz each)
2 tsp olive oil
1-1/2 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt and pepper
For basil mousse:
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp basil pesto
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Dry the fillets well on paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper on all sides.
- Set a large oven-proof non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add olive oil (you might need a little more oil if you are not using a fatty fish like chilean sea bass or sable). Place the fish in the pan the nicer looking side down (if using striped bass or some fish with the skin, place it skin side down). Sear until nicely browned, 2-3 minutes.
- Flip the fish, spread the cherry tomatoes in the pan around the fish. Sprinkle them with a little salt and if not using a fatty fish, a little olive oil. Turn tomatoes to coat with pan juices, and set the pan in the middle of the oven to finish cooking the fish. The total cooking time (searing plus baking) will be around 8 minutes per inch of thickness. To test for doneness, separate the flakes in the thickest part and peek inside. The fish is done when a trace of translucency still remains in the center.
- While the fish is cooking, make basil mousse: Whip the cream by hand or with electric beater until foamy. Add the pesto and beat until soft peaks form (don't overbeat as the cream might separate). Season to taste with salt.
- Place the fish on 4 plates. Spoon tomatoes over fish and top with basil mousse.