Pan-seared sea bass with French salsa
This is a quick and easy way to prepare a lovely warm-weather dish. The key is to buy the freshest fish possible. Have your fish monger fillet a whole sea bass (one fish will serve two people unless you are hearty eaters, in which case count one fish — 2 fillets — per person). The sauce, to be served alongside, is made of tomatoes, shallots and fresh herbs.
In this recipe, the fish is cooked (almost) à l’unilateral — in other words, on one side only. The bass is first cooked skin side down, until the skin is browned and crispy. It is then flipped over and allowed to cook only very briefly in the hot pan, for a succulent result.
2 sea bass fillets, skin on
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 lemon, cut into wedges
2 tbsp. finely minced herbs (basil, cilantro, dill, mint or a combination)
2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar or lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. freshly ground coriander seeds (optional)
Begin by making the sauce:
Scald the tomatoes for one minute in a pot of boiling water. Drain.
When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, slip off their peels. Cut in quarters. Remove the hard bits around the stem. Discard the seeds. Cut the remaining flesh of the tomatoes into very small dice. Place in a bowl.
Peel and finely mince the shallot. Add to the bowl. Add the fresh herbs to the bowl. Stir.
Add the remaining sauce ingredients and stir. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Just before you are ready to serve, prepare the fish:
Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil to sizzling in a skillet. Place the fish in the hot oil skin side down.
Allow to cook for 4-5 minutes, until the skin is nicely browned. Gently flip the fish. Turn off the heat, leaving the fish in the hot pan for about one minute more.
Serve accompanied by the sauce and steamed fresh vegetables. Garnish with the lemon wedges. Serves 2.