I know what you’re thinking… that really doesn’t look like Sea Bass. No, it doesn’t. Heck, it doesn’t even look like the Halibut that would have been a pretty good substitute. But sometimes you work with what you can get, so red snapper it is. The recipe would have been much better with either of the aforementioned fish, so if you can get them, I highly recommend it. This recipe comes from Natalie’s Daily Crave, a blog I suggest everyone follow. Everything that I’ve seen her post has looked delicious, and the few I’ve cooked have definitely been so.
This recipe looks long and complicated, but most of the steps are pretty simple. We’ll start by making the pea puree, since it keeps the best. If you have access to fresh english peas, blanch them for 2 minutes and dunk them in an ice bath. If, like me, you’re using frozen, just skip to the pureeing part. Throw peas, basil, cream, garlic, salt, and pepper into a blender. Pulse until a nice puree, adding more cream if necessary. In my case, the peas were frozen so solid that I needed to wait to let them thaw so they would puree, but you could also soak them in warm water to thaw them.
Next, we’ll make the asparagus slaw. You can skip blanching the asparagus if you’re pressed for time, but it definitely makes for a softer slaw, which I prefer. Fill a medium saucepan or stockpot with water and a little salt, bring it to a boil, and blanch the asparagus for 3 minutes. Remove to a bowl with an ice bath. Once it has cooled, drain and dry.
With a vegetable peeler, shave the asparagus into thin strips lengthwise. When you get to the final portion of asparagus, you can either prop it up on the flat wooden handle of a spatula to access it better, or place it at the edge of your cutting board and peel at an angle, which worked for me.
Now, in a small bowl whisk together orange juice, vinegar, and dijon.
Slowly add the olive oil while quickly whisking, until all of the oil is incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Toss the asparagus in the dressing and set aside for at least 15 minutes.
Now for the potatoes. Preheat the oven to 425 and wash the potatoes, removing all dirt. Use a mandoline set to 1/4 inch thick and slice the potatoes, or slice by hand to the same thickness. Cover two baking trays with foil and lightly grease with butter or oil. Toss potatoes in olive oil and grated parmesan cheese (I used cheddar, due to a lack of hormone-free parmesan in the house, but the potatoes really needed the saltiness of parmesan.) Place in baking trays in a single layer.
Bake for 15 minutes, then let rest for 5 minutes before removing with a spatula.
Now for the final, and most important part: the fish! If you’re making more fillets than will easily fit into your pan without crowding, do this in two batches so you don’t overcrowd and fail to get a good sear. First, dry the fillets well with a paper towel to remove moisture, then season generously with salt and pepper, since some gets lost in the cooking process.
Heat enough oil in a heavy bottomed pan (NOT non-stick) to coat completely. Heat on medium high until almost smoking before adding the fish. Make sure to turn your vents on. Slip the fish in going away from you so that the hot oil doesn’t splash you. Cook for 3-4 minutes, not touching the fish. Once it has a good crust, you should be able to move it freely. If you try to move it too soon, it will fall apart on you.
Flip the fish and finish just a few more minutes on the other side until well browned. Place fish on top of layered potatoes, top with pea puree and slaw. Or plate however you’d like, because there are a lot of great ways to present this dish.
Seared Sea Bass with Basil-Pea Puree
- 6 sea bass filets 6oz
- 1/4 cup canola oil not olive oil
- – Pea Puree–
- 2 cups fresh english peas or frozen if you cannot find fresh
- 7-8 extra-large basil leaves
- 1/4 cup heavy cream or more if needed
- 1 small garlic clove minced
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper
- – Asparagus Slaw –
- 1 bunch of thick asparagus ends trimmed off
- 3 Tbsp good quality olive oil
- 2 Tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1 Tbsp champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
- salt and pepper
- – Crispy Parmesan Potatoes –
- 6 yukon gold potatoes sliced 1/4 inch thin
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Pea Puree: If you are using fresh peas, fill a small saucepan with water and a large pinch of salt to a boil (if you are not using fresh peas, skip this step and move on to next paragraph). Prepare an ice bath: a bowl with ice cubes and cold water, set aside. Add peas to the boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes. Remove and drain peas and place into the ice bath.
Place the peas, basil, cream, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until well blended. Adjust seasoning if needed and add more cream if it needs to be thinned slightly. Pour the puree back into the small saucepan and keep warm.
Asparagus Slaw: You can also skip the blanching and do this with raw asparagus, but I like to quickly blanch the asparagus to give it a little softer texture.
Fill a medium saucepan with water and a large pinch of salt to a boil. Prepare an ice bath as you did above with the peas. This helps keep the vibrant green color, as well as stopping the cooking of the vegetable. Add asparagus to the boiling water and blanch for 3 minutes. Remove and drain asparagus and place into the ice bath. Once asparagus has cooled, drain and blot dry with paper towel.
With a vegetable peeler, shave the asparagus into thin strips lengthwise. When you get to the final portion of an asparagus spear and you have troubles, try propping the spear up on the flat wooden handle of a spatula. It will raise it slightly so it’s high enough to allow the peeler to move down the spear more freely.
In a small bowl whisk together the orange juice, vinegar and dijon. Slowly add the olive oil while quickly whisking, until all incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss the asparagus in the dressing and set aside and let sit for at least 15 minutes.
Crispy Parmesan Potatoes: Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Wash the potatoes well, removing any dirt. If you have a mandoline, set the dial to 1/4 inch thick and slice the potatoes. If you do not have a mandoline, slice the potatoes into thin 1/4 inch discs and place in a large bowl.
Cover two large baking trays with foil and lightly grease with butter or oil. Toss the potatoes in olive oil and grated parmesan cheese and lay the potatoes out onto the tray in a single layer. Ensure any loose or left over cheese gets placed on top of the potatoes.
Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until the bottoms are browned and crispy. Allow the potatoes to rest for 5 minutes before lifting off the foil and then remove using a spatula.
Seared Sea Bass: If you’re making more than 3 or 4 filets you will need to do this in two separate pans or two batches. If the pan is too crowded you won’t get that nice crusty sear on the fish.
Dry the sea bass filets with a paper towel to remove moisture
Season generously with salt and a little pepper since the only seasoning will be on the outside and some of that gets lost when we add it to the pan.
Add enough oil to the bottom of a heavy-bottomed pan (not a non-stick) to coat completely.
Heat the oil on medium-high heat completely before adding to the pan. It will almost be smoking (and turn the vents on).
Slip the fish into the pan going away from your face, so the hot oil does not splash you.
Allow the fish to cook for 3-4 minutes before flipping and do not try to move the fish. Once the fish has a nice brown crust, you will be able to freely move it around. If you try too soon, it will fall apart and stick to the bottom of the pan.
Flip the fish and finish just a few more minutes on the other side or until browned.
Plate all ingredients as desired.