Monday, July 19, 2010

Pan-Seared Sea Bass in a Marsala Sauce

My brother sat down at the dinner table this evening only to freak out at what I was serving. "What the hell did you do to the broccoli?" My mom and I told him it wasn't broccoli. "Then what the hell did you do to the cauliflower?" So articulate for a twenty-six year old. I had no idea until about six months ago that cauliflower comes in orange and purple varieties, so his reaction wasn't too unexpected. The odd thing about purple cauliflower is that you'd expect it to taste different--maybe a little sweeter or perhaps a little bitter. Nope, tastes exactly the same. The only difference is its color and the fact that it turns any water you steam it in bright blue. That was kind of gross.

Blue water may be gross, but colorful food is good. I find that when my food is more colorful, the better it tastes and the more I want to eat it. Ugly food? Not so appetizing--even if I know it's just ugly because the portabella mushrooms turned it brown (my barley was dull-looking). I know I'm not the only one who won't eat something simply because it looks kind of unattractive. Putting aside the psychological impacts of color, you should strive for color in your dishes because all of the good, healthy, nutritious stuff is colorful. Red fruits and vegetables? Depending on what it is, these contain lycopene and anthocyanin, which are good for your heart and fighting cancer. Yellow and orange are eye-loving and tend to be filled with beta-carotine and/or vitamins C and B. Blue and purple are all about the antioxidents, while white (including garlic!) contain anthoxanthins and potassium. Anthoxanthins? Those babies lower cholosterol and blood pressure. And if there's anything a lawyer needs, it's something to lower her blood pressure. This may be why I am so obsessed with fresh garlic.

Let's quickly talk sea bass before I tell you a funny story. Sea bass is my favorite fish. It just has this amazing flavor and texture. It's almost buttery, if that makes any sense. I think all sea bass should be seasoned liberally with salt and pepper, pan-seared in a little olive oil until just cooked, and served without lemon. Any sort of sauce should compliment it, but not take over its flavor. So that's what I did. And guess what? My fish-hating mother enjoyed it! We can usually only get her to eat tilapia because it's a very mild fish, but sea bass now trumps tilapia! You have no idea how exciting this is. It's one less fish dinner that requires me to make her something separate. And while I shouldn't complain about that because I required the same for years (and still do sometimes), it really is obnoxious. So score one for fish and another for my sanity! And no, this isn't Chilean sea bass and I'm sorry about all of the uncharacteristic exclamation points. It's not like me to be so...perky.

Now, for funny story time. So I'm slaving away in the kitchen trying to get dinner made while my cousin feeds her fourteen-month-old twins at the table. They're dropping and throwing these weird vegetable sticks and teething biscuits onto the floor for the same reasons most little kids do. Angel, my dog, thought that this was so awesome that she went to go sit in the corner by one of the boys. Was she ever the smart puppy: he started taking his food and putting it directly in her mouth. The best part of the whole ordeal is that she refused to eat the green sticks, but not the red and yellow.

Before I let you go, I'd like to point out that I added that Google Friend Connect thingy over in the sidebar for those of you who prefer that method of stalking following me.

Pan-Seared Sea Bass
in a Marsala Sauce*

4 4-5 oz sea bass fillets
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
15 oz flavorful mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup marsala wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

Preheat your oven to 450F.

1. Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil to medium in a pan and add garlic, onions and mushrooms. Cook until onions are translucent and mushrooms are nearing tender.

2. Turn heat to high and pour in wine. Quickly scrape off any brown bits with the wine. Let some of the wine cook off.

3. Turn down heat to medium. Add in chicken stock, salt and pepper. Allow to cook until mushrooms are tender and liquid has reduced into a slightly thicker sauce. It should coat a spoon. Cover and set aside.

4. In an oven proof pan, heat olive oil until just before smoking point. The amount depends on your pan and the quantity of fish you use--you don't want to fry your fish, merely sear it, so don't put so much in that when you add the fish, it will rise to 1/2 an inch. Mine rose to maybe 1/8 of an inch.

5. Pat your fish dry on both sides. Liberally salt and pepper both sides.

6. Carefully place your fish in the pan. To avoid splatter, lay it down away from you, meaning the side closest to you gets set down, the side further away from you gets dropped.

7. Sear for 5-6 minutes until golden brown. Flip over for another few minutes until golden brown. Then transfer to oven for 3-4 minutes until cooked through.

8. Dish out sauce and place the fish in the middle. Serve with some steamed vegetables--preferably tossed in rosemary.

*Recipe adapted (read: made healthier) from here.


Le said...

This fish looks wonderful! I didn't even know cauliflower came in a variety of colours! It looks interesting! Reminds me of the smurfs:)

Baking Barrister said...

Le! That was so quick!

Angie's Recipes said...

Love sea bass...and your pan-seared one looks terrific!
First time saw the purple interesting.


Ah, sea bass, how I love thee! It looks just perfect!

Samantha @ The Savvy Soybean said...

This looks so hearty and delicious! Great recipe- - glad I came across your blog!!

roxan said...

I just left you a long comment but then when I tried posting it my computer froze. ugh. Anyways, long story short, looks great and I love bass!

Kath said...

Your sea bass looks like it's cooked perfectly! I totally agree with you, that such a fine piece of fish should be cooked simply.

Kristen said...

I wish I could find some of that purple cauliflower. It looks beautiful with the carrots. The fish with the mushrooms...mmmmmm! So delicious!

Jean said...

You're so right about the buttery texture of sea bass--it's why I like it too--and mushroom/marsala sauces like this always make things even better.

Love the story about the dog!

Lauren said...

Did you know I have a big sister who is a lawyer? I do. She's 27. I think I may inflect/impose some of my annoying little sister tendencies toward you as a result of this coincidence. Like, how I'm angry if you are tweeting enough to amuse me. Or if you get to have sea bass and I'm having grilled chicken, again. It's not fair. RUDEEE.

(P.S. The food looks great. I like weird colored veggies.)

Rick said...

That purple cauliflower is awesome!!!!! And masala with a fish? Fantastic idea.

Simply Scrumptious said...

I've been following your blog for a month now and it always cracks me up. I love your recipes and this one looks delicious as I'm on a bit of a fish kick these days. Love the purple cauliflower. I might freak out my husband for the next meal! If you have a minute check out my food blog as well Keep it up :)

Kathy Diaz (found baking) said...

That is funny about your puppy. Hahaha! I will admit I have never eaten a purple cauliflower before. It looks so vibrant on a plate!

Le said...

hahah was my post really that quick? The joys of time differences...but really. haha.

mysimplefood said...

Hi!! Oh my!! I have never seen a blue/purple/orange cauliflower!!??!! Interesting but scary at the same time too

baking.serendipity said...

I love your brother's reaction to the cauliflower, though I haven't to admit, I haven't seen it colored before either! I do agree with you, colorful just seems to taste better. I'm not sure what it is about it though!

Pam said...

The sea bass looks perfect! It definitely has a great taste. The purple cauliflower is pretty great too! I'm new here and will be looking forward to what's cooking next! Great blog!

Baking Barrister said...

Thank you everyone! I'm glad to enlighten some of you as to the oddity that is purple cauliflower.

And welcome newcomers! I hope you stay for more of my insanity.

Design Wine and Dine said...

Love Sea Bass too! So RICH and delicious! The top of yours looks awesome! Love your story, very funny!

Chef Dennis said...

that has to be the best looking sea bass I have ever seen! the mushroom and onions sound so good with it! and that cauliflower is amazing...I have never seen it that shade, I have bought purple, green and orange, but I have never seen that gorgeous blue!
what a great post!

Baking Barrister said...

Dennis -- it means a lot to me that an actual chef is impressed! and I've never seen it this blueish color before either--just a lavender color--so of course I had to share. ;)

jencheung said...

if i was your brother, i would of said the same thing too! LOL. i never seen califlowers in purple or orange before! he probably thought you put food coloring in it eh? hehehe. funny :) love your story. and your meal looks delicious!!! YUMM.

PS: Have a lovely weekend!

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