Sunday, July 10, 2011

Weekly Fish #8: White Sea Bass with Fennel Three Ways

The strategy behind this week's fish was similar to weeks' past: visit Coastal Seafoods and pick up whatever looked good. I nearly opted for a pair of scary, toothy whole fish, but opted instead for something simpler: white sea bass.

We had a pair of small fennel bulbs from our latest Harmony Valley CSA box, along with a curiously high proportion of fennel stalks, stored separately. This week's dish made good use of all of that.

The fish itself was a simple preparation, but with a fun twist. I first charred a bunch of fennel stalks in a hot pan for 15 minutes, and then put the sea bass (rubbed with olive oil, salt and pepper) on top of that before putting in the oven. The stalks did a nice job at keeping the fish from sticking to the pan, which made serving a heck of a lot easier. And they also infused the fish with an herbaceous, burnt aspect; or so I imagined.

The fennel was featured three ways in this dish:
  1. Braised fennel wedges. This was a hit. I cut a handful of wedges from the bulb and warmed in a bit of oil in a pan, added some chicken stock, butter, salt and pepper, and simmered for 20 minutes. Very tender and full of flavor.
  2. Apple and fennel slaw. A simple salad of julienned apple, sliced fennel, oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, oil, sugar, salt and pepper. Very crunchy and a great offset to the warm and tender braised fennel wedges.
  3. Crunchy fennel topping on the fish. I chilled some fennel slices in ice water, dried, and mixed with oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. It complemented the bites of fishy sea bass nicely.

I suppose this is the second weekly fish to feature something three ways. I think this is a good way to use up perishable ingredients when cooking for two: rather than have a bunch of something leftover, why not dress it up in different ways and use it all up? Of course, by that logic, and with our current supply of veggies, the next weekly fish will feature seafood with beets 19 ways.

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