Seared Wild Striped Bass with Tomato Sage "Fondue"
The Dressing Room - Westport, CT
Adapted from Sustainably Delicious: Making the World a Better Place, One Recipe at a Time (Rodale Books, 2010).
"It's like a coastal comfort food," says chef Michel Nischan of his fresh-flavored recipe for striped bass. "You've got that really good ripe tomato flavor and great mouthfeel because there's a little bit of butter in there." Plus, says Nischan, the sage gives a flavor reminiscent of Thanksgiving.
Both farmed and wild-caught striped bass from the United States are on the Seafood Watch green "Best Choice" list. Wild Atlantic striped bass are at record levels because of effective fishery management and strong conservation actions.
- 2 tablespoons roasted garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, sliced
- Sea salt
- 6 skin-on striped bass fillets, each about 6 ounces
- 2 tablespoons grape-seed or canola oil
- 2 tablespoons diced shallots
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 heirloom tomatoes, preferably 2 or 3 varieties (about 2 pounds)
Using a mortar and pestle, smash the garlic, sage, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt until combined and fragrant. Season the fillets with sea salt.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Put the grape-seed oil in the hot pan and immediately add the fillets, skin sides down. Lightly press each fillet to ensure the skin makes contact with the hot pan. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the flesh nearest the bottom of the pan begins to turn brown.
Use a thin spatula to turn the fillets over. Add the shallots and softened butter to one side of the pan while tilting the pan towards you slightly. The butter will immediately melt and bubble and collect with the shallots in the nook of the pan closest to you. Use a large tablespoon to baste the fillets with the butter and shallots and continue basting for about 2 minutes. Transfer the fillets to a warm, oven-proof platter. Check the doneness of the fillets. If they need a little more cooking, put the platter in a 250-degree oven for 2 to 3 minutes. The bass should be cooked through but not over-cooked.
To make the fondue, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the tomato slices, cold butter, and garlic-sage paste to the skillet. Cook at a simmer, gently moving the ingredients around the pan with a wooden spoon to distribute the butter and garlic paste evenly until the sauce comes together.
To serve, spoon the fondue on a warm serving platter and set the fillets on top. Drizzle with olive oil.