Sunday, March 21, 2010

Seared Sea Bass with Pan-Roasted Cauliflower

So I have been taking a photography class to learn how to take pictures with my new fancy camera.  And in this class we take pictures in black and white.  When Alex grabbed the camera to take pictures of dinner tonight he didn't notice that the camera was set to black and white (or that it was set to manual mode), so now we have black and white pictures of our seared bass.  Oops.  Now, if the problem had been reversed and we had color pictures when we wanted black and white the camera could just alter the image to make it black and white.  Unfortunately, when you start with a picture in black and white the reverse is not possible.  Somehow he managed to get close to proper exposure and everything with the camera in manual without knowing anything about F-stops and shutter speeds, purely through dumb luck.  Then again, the last pictures I took were indoor with bright studio spotlights, so that's pretty close to the conditions under which the sea bass photos were shot.  Either way, my apologies for the black and white photo!

I love few things more than a properly cooked piece of fish - particularly one with a nice crispy skin.  Sure meat is great, but in my opinion fish is way better, not to mention harder to cook.  I would be perfectly happy with this piece of seared Montauk sea bass over cauliflower in almost any restaurant.  Perhaps not a Jean Georges level restaurant or Marea, but nearly anywhere else.  It was lovely.  Fresh, lively and perfectly crispy.  Alex said the fish was on the same level as the short ribs, but I think it was on a completely different level.  This is one of my favorite meals that I have prepared recently.  And that is saying a lot.  I loved it!  So amazing.  If you love sea bass, you will love this dish.

Recipe after the jump!

Seared Sea Bass with Pan-Roasted Cauliflower

1 lb. sea bass fillets, skin-on (I used fresh Montauk sea bass)
kosher salt
4 tbsp evoo, separated, plus more if necessary
1/2 of a large head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
3 cloves garlic, sliced
small handful Marcona almonds
1/4 tsp pimenton (Spanish paprika)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Using a sharp knife, score the skin of the sea bass in a cross-hatch pattern.  This will prevent the fish from curling up when it hits the hot pan.  Alternatively, you can use another weighted frying pan (the weight can be a large can of soup, or another pot), oiled and placed gently on top of the fillets to keep the fish from curling.  Season both sides of fish generously with s&p.  

Heat a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 2 tbsp evoo.  Once oil is hot, and nearly smoking, add cauliflower.  Using tongs, stir-fry the cauliflower.  Add s&p.  Saute cauliflower until it starts turning golden-brown, about 5 minutes.  If pan is bone dry, add an additional tbsp of evoo.  Toss or stir to combine.  Add garlic and Marcona almonds.  Cook until garlic is golden brown and cauliflower is fully cooked.  Sprinkle with pimenton. Stir to combine.  Season to taste with additional s&p if necessary.

Meanwhile, heat a 12 inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, add sea bass fillets, skin side down.  Sear fillets, skin side down, until crispy and golden brown, about 7 minutes.  Turn fish over and cook until just cooked through, about 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Whisk together 2 tbsp lemon juice, remaining 2 tbsp evoo, and 1/2 tsp kosher salt.

Serve fish fillets on top of cauliflower.  Drizzle both with vinaigrette to taste.  Serve immediately.

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