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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Pan Roasted Chilean Sea Bass

Being a newbie to this site, I thought I could make something more challenging than my normal Italian based dishes.  I initially wanted to make a dish with Atlantic sea bass.  After going to 3 different grocery stores, I ended up going to the local Whole Foods and found what I was looking for.  But, the cuts of Atlantic sea bass they had didn’t look too appetizing.  So I set my eyes on the Chilean sea bass.  Understandably the mark up for this delicacy is premium, but HOLY COW!  If you have a chance, look up what a Chilean Sea Bass looks like.  Probably the only thing uglier than me is that fish... probably.

Stuff for the sauce:
½ TBSP basil infused olive oil (regular olive oil will do)
½ medium onion, thinly sliced
8 ounces of baby bella mushrooms, sliced (wild would be best, but any mushroom would suffice)
¼ cup of Dry Marsala wine (you can use any dry white wine, but will taste a little different)
½ cup chicken stock
1 TBSP unsalted butter
Salt and pepper for taste

Stuff for the fish:
(2) 6-8ounce filets of Chilean Sea Bass, skin on (may be substituted with Butterfish or Atlantic Sea Bass)
½ TBSP Canola Oil
Sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
Dry basil (optional)
Garlic powder (optional)
Chives, for garnish

First I prepared the sea bass by sprinkling sea salt, fresh pepper, dry basil, and garlic powder onto both sides of the filets.

After that, I pre-heated the oven to 450F.  While that was going, I made the onion and mushroom sauce.  In a sauce pan, I heated up the olive oil over medium-high heat and sautéed the onions.  Once the onions were transparent, I added the dry Marsala wine and deglazed the pan.  

As soon as all the wine was cooked off, I added the mushrooms and butter, and reduced the heat to medium until the mushrooms were tender.  I then added the chicken stock, salt and pepper, and reduced the mixture until I had the right consistency.  I then removed from heat and placed aside to work on the risotto.
I was a bit overwhelmed at the moment, so I made instant risotto, substituting water with chicken stock, and adding sun-dried tomatoes.

While the risotto was boiling off, I preheated the cast iron pan and canola oil for the sea bass filets.  It’s important that you use a pan that’s oven safe.  Cast Iron pans would be perfect since they retain heat for a long time, and also would cook the fish evenly.  To test when the cast iron pan is ready, simply wet your fingers with a little bit of water, and sprinkle a couple drops of water into the pan.  If the pan isn’t hot enough, the water will just sit there and dry off.  If the pan is too hot, the water will evaporate immediately.  You want to see the water droplet bounce around and evaporate after a few bounces.

Once the pan came up to the right temperature, I added the filets skin down and cooked for about 5 minutes.  Key thing here is to have the skin crispy.  After that, I flipped the filets over and cooked for another 30-45 seconds.  By this time the oven was done preheating, so I placed the pan of filets into the oven and let it roast for 3 minutes.

When the 3 minutes were up, I pulled the pan out of the oven and plated the filets on top of the onion and mushroom sauce.  To compliment the dish, I had a glass of my favorite Chianti Classico.  The sea bass came out extremely tender and juicy.   The skin was perfect and crispy.  The sauce was sweet, but not too sweet as to mask the flavor of the sea bass.  It’s been a while since I’ve had Chilean sea bass at a restaurant.  All I know is that I’ll be making this dish at home, rather than going out to a fancy restaurant.