After returning from a week-long Paris and Burgundy trip, filled to the brim with cheese, wine, and buttery pastries, I am having some serious withdrawals over here. And not just any buttery pastries, I should add. We’re talking French buttery pastries filled with French buttery pastry creams. Do you feel me? Rich, creamy, luxury at it’s finest. (There are a few pictures from the trip on my facebook page here, if you want to take a peek).
Thankfully I came back with Spring waiting on the doorstep (well, technically speaking anyway — never mind the white covered ground I’m staring at out the window). But I know it’s going to be here, it’s coming, it’s so close I can taste it, and there are so many fun occasions to celebrate this time of year. From Easter to Mother’s Day to the bright and sunny days filled with color. All of which are what I had in mind when I made this dish. It’s so bright and cheery, it makes me smile just writing about it.
It’s a very simple and fun dish to make, and the fresh Spring flavors speak loudly. Below are easy to follow, step-by-step instructions on how to create all the components and to sear the perfect fish. And I should also add that you can use any type of fish you’d like here. I’ve made it with Salmon and Halibut as well, and with the addition of a nice crisp glass of Sauvignon Blanc, they have all equally helped cure my withdrawal symptoms. Now, if I could just get a volunteer to make me an extra buttery pastry for dessert…
Bon Appetit and Happy Spring!
Seared Sea Bass with Basil-Pea Puree, Crispy Parmesan Potatoes, Asparagus Slaw
- 6 (6oz) sea bass filets
- 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.
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.
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.
Step-by-step through pictures:
1. Dry the sea bass filets with a paper towel to remove moisture
2. 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.
3. Add enough oil to the bottom of a heavy-bottomed pan (not a non-stick) to coat completely.
4. Heat the oil on medium-high heat completely before adding to the pan. It will almost be smoking (and turn the vents on).
5. Slip the fish into the pan going away from your face, so the hot oil does not splash you.
6. 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.
7. Flip the fish and finish just a few more minutes on the other side or until browned.
8. Plate all ingredients
I like to keep the potatoes and puree separate on the plate so the potatoes stay nice and crisp.
But you can plate the dish however you’d like to.
To make the puree swirl on the plate, you place a dab of the puree down and then using the back on your spoon drag it across the plate in the direction you want the swirl.
Another great garnish for this dish is to use fresh edible flowers around the plate, but for this I just shaved a little bit of fresh orange zest on top.