On my regular visit to my local fishmonger to inquire after sachets of squid ink I ended up settling for a brace of sea bass instead.
These formed the basis for a couple of tasty meals over a weekend of IKEA cupboard-building.
It was observed, quite fairly I thought, that the first dinner - Pan-Fried Sea Bass with Beetroot Rösti, Pak Choy and Lemon Grass Sauce
took an absurd length of time to prepare. Ten hours does
seem excessive. In my defence - this included several hours of sauce reduction,
some messy fish cleaning and a great deal of rösti experimentation. I'm sure you
could knock this out in a mere 6 hours or so!
Fortunately for the sanity of my audience, the second Sea Bassy meal with
Apple-Mustard sauce and stuffed courgettes
took only minutes.
About a hundred or so.
Pan-Fried Sea Bass with Beetroot Rösti, Pak Choy and Lemon Grass Sauce
main side fish
Thoroughly de-scale each sea bass with a sharp knife, then fillet them by slicing down each side along the rib bones from the spine.
This gives two wide pieces with a line of bones down the middle.
It's easiest if you split these pieces in half down this line, cutting out the bones to get two narrow fillets.
You can then tidy these up, cutting away the thin white flaps along the bottom , then slice them diagonally into nice lozenge shapes.
Rub their skin side with Maldon sea salt just before frying.
Prepare the lemon grass sauce, the stir-fry ingredients and the beetroot rösti mixture.
Unfortunately there's a lot of frying here, and you want to serve everything as quickly as possible,
but especially the rösti which really don't keep well.
So you'll just have to work fast.
Best if you first fry the salted Sea Bass Lozenges over a high heat in clarified butter .
Cook them skin-side down until the skin is crispy and the flesh has whitened almost all the way through
then flip them briefly to finish off the fleshy side.
Keep them warm in the oven while you fry the rösti and the stir fry.
Spoon a puddle of sauce onto each plate, stack a row of sea bass lozenges in the sauce, add a pile of rösti and a heap of stir-fry and serve.
Pan-Fried Sea Bass with Stuffed Courgettes, Mango Salad and Apple-Mustard Sauce
main side fish
Prepare the stuffed courgettes and then get them under the grill or in the oven.
Prepare the sea bass as above.
Prepare the Apple-Mustard sauce.
Make a simple mango salad - chop some mango, spring onions, cherry tomatoes, lettuce and mix together with a light dressing.
Fry the sea bass as above, spoon a puddle of the thick sauce on the plate, stack the sea bass lozenges nicely in it,
then add a stuffed courgette and a pile of salad sprinkled with toasted coconut.
Tomato And Vanilla Sauce
Your tomatoes will reduce waaaaay down.
- half red onion, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- knob butter
- 5 largish peeled, seeded tomatoes
- 1 vanilla pod, split down its length
- peeled, halved carrots
- 1 red sweet pointed pepper, grilled, peeled, seeded, finely chopped
Soften the minced onion and garlic in a little butter.
Blanche the tomatoes in boiling water then peel and deseed them.
Add to the pan.
Split the vanilla pod lengthwise and add it to the pot.
Grill the pepper to char the skin, let it cool in a small plastic bag, then peel and deseed it.
Chop the flesh. Add it to the pot
Simmer gently to reduce the tomatoes to a mushy pulp, then blend to a paste
(using water sieved through the leftover tomato bits), and continue to simmer.
The sauce will thicken and should turn a deep red colour when its ready.
Remove the vanilla pod.
Pile the purée on the plates (use a cookie cutter - if the sauce has thickened enough) and decorate with toasted coconut.
Lemon Grass Sauce
oriental sauce veg
- 3 sticks lemon grass
- 1" ginger
- ½ head garlic
- ½ red onion
- groundnut oil
- coconut cream from ½ coconut
- handful basil leaves, sliced
Make your coconut cream.
Peel and grate your coconut flesh,
pour in a cup or two of lukewarm water and then massage the coconut until you've extracted as much cream as possible,
adding the coconut's water too if you like.
Strain it through muslin.
Or buy it :)
Blend the other ingredients together, moistening with groundnut oil as necessary.
Fry the resulting paste in a smear of groundnut oil, until it colours, and the oil separates.
Then add the rest of the coconut cream (in smallish batches), reducing to a nice thick sauce.
Stir through sliced basil leaves just before serving.
ingredient veg vegan
Makes an acceptable topping for sauces or salads.
If a little bland.
Hammer a screwdriver into the coconut eyes and turn the nut upside down on a glass to drain out the coconut water.
Put the coconut in a very hot oven for 5 minutes, then hold it in a towel and crack it sharply with a hammer
- the shell should split nicely.
Peel the brown skin from the white coconut and finely grate the flesh.
Gently dry pan-fry the shredded coconut until it colours nicely and starts to crisp up.
You'll need to watch it like a hawk and keep it moving to stop it burning though.
This is a really tasty if intriguing mixture of flavours,
and goes terrifically well with, say, pan-fried Sea Bass.
I was rather under the impression that I had invented it, but to my chagrin, it turns out that
Just goes to show there's nothing new under the grill.
- 1 apple, cored, peeled, chopped
- 2-3 heaping teaspoons prepared English mustard.
- 1 oz butter, or to taste
- handful chopped basil
Peel, core and chop the apple.
Fry the pieces in a little butter until well coated and starting to soften
(unless you've been shopping in a supermarket and ended up with an apple which is made of polystyrene).
Add a little brown sugar if the apple is very tart.
Cover the apple with water
and simmer until the apple is completely mushy, crush, mash or blend, then stir in the mustard and gently reduce.
When the sauce is thick and gloopy, whisk in a few knobs of butter until the sauce gets all glossy,
then stir through the basil.
Season and serve.
side veg vegan
- 1 large (baking) potato
- 1 large beetroot
- grated fresh coconut
Boil the potato and beetroot whole in their skins for about 10 minutes, until they just began to soften,
but are still firm. Drain and allow to cool slightly before peeling and grating them into separate bowls.
Salt the roots generously.
Grate the coconut into another bowl.
I tried a few different ways of making up the röstis.
I was hoping for nicely shaped patties, crispy on the outside, well cooked and tender on the inside.
Mix roughly half beetroot with half potato, press into patties and fry in a generous amount of butter until cooked.
Mix pure grated beetroot with enough plain flour to coat,
press into patties and fry in a generous amount of butter until cooked through.
Press grated beetroot into patties and fry in butter until cooked.
So, I tried the oven baking method:
I par-boiled a potato and a beetroot (10 minutes for the potato, 20 for the beetroot) peeled and grated them together
seasoned the mixture, pressed into 1"x3" patties, brushed both sides with an olive oil/melted butter mixture,
then baked at Gas 8 (Gas 7 seemed to low) for 15 minutes, then flip and 10 minutes longer.
side main veg
I remember making these fellows ages ago, but now I can't seem to find my original recipe for them.
Which is weird. I'm usually reasonably retentive of these things. I wonder if anyone has noticed?
Serves 1 or 2 per courgette
- onion, diced
- garlic, minced
- cheese, grated
Par-cook the courgettes whole in a steamer, or a small amount of water. Don't overdo it.
When they've cooled slightly, slice them in half lengthways and scoop out the seedy centre with a teaspoon. Chop the flesh.
Gently fry the onions and garlic in butter until soft, then add the courgette flesh and reduce it.
Add mustard to taste.
Grate about half the cheese into the mixture .
Lay the courgettes in a baking dish, fill them with the stuffing mixture, and grate over the remaining cheese.
Grill (or bake at 200°C) until the cheese melts nicely.
Stir Fried Pak Choy
oriental side veg vegan
- pak choy
- spring onion
- soy sauce
- tangerine juice
- mirin (rice wine)
- dash sesame oil
Mince the ginger
slice the spring onions on a diagonal, wash the pak choy.
Fry the ginger, followed by the spring onions then the pak choy.
Throw in the tempura dip to finish off, let it boil off and remove to a warmed serving dish.
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