Today’s post is written by my lovely friend (and fellow blogger) Jodi. I love her blog as it is truly an extension of Jodi. Her warmth and intelligence is that quiet voice that hovers over all of her recipes; you can almost hear her saying, “You can do this”.
Although I consider myself a very confident and capable cook, I have tremendous anxiety when it comes to cooking any seafood other than shrimp. I knew that Jodi was the one to turn to for help. And you will too – when you become a fan of her blog, Jodi’s Kitchen and Home!
Thank you, Sheri, for introducing me to your readers. I’m thrilled to hang out on your blog today. You asked if I would write up a recipe for fish. Easy! I love fish, and I love cooking fish, and I love writing about fish. I guess I should call my blog “Jodi’s Fish House,” but instead it’s “Jodi’s Kitchen & Home“, where I write about food, gardening, kid stuff, the husband. Often I’ll throw in a vacation, maybe a good musing on pork, but always with a healthy dash of memories. You know, all the stuff that makes a family a home. Thanks for inviting me over!
I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t eating seafood. For a girl who was born in Missouri, this might seem strange. Born, but not raised. My father had whisked the family off to Italy by the time I was five. My first vivid memory was gnocchi in a Roman trattoria. Second to that, and certainly more indelible, were the seaports along the Tuscan coast, where my father would drag me to pick up the catch of the day.
Early mornings were spent haggling with the fishermen. My father would point to the spigola (sea bass) or gamberi (prawns) or cozze (mussels). He would ask where the seafood was caught, how old it was, how fresh. If seafood had social security cards, he would have asked for those, too. This would go on for several minutes, the back and forth between my father and a seventh-generation fisherman, each trying to out-do the other in the age-old dance of purveyor vs. customer. While demanding the lowest price for the highest quality, my father would also be teaching his youngest daughter a valuable lesson: Don’t settle for anything but the best. Alas, here I am all grown up, and I still find myself pointing to different fish selections at the market and trying to outsmart the vendor.
Which is kind of ridiculous, if you think about it, since I don’t make a living filleting swordfish or clamming at low tide. But I do know a thing or two about cooking a fish.
Which brings me to sea bass, a tender fish that is easy to make, and even easier to enjoy. The sea bass is a light fish, having none of the oiliness that you’ll find with salmon or mackerel. It’s often difficult to detect any briney/ocean-y flavor, which makes it a favorite for people who have an aversion to a “fishy” flavor.
Due to its mild taste, I like to add an accompaniment to it. Sure, a hearty squeeze of lemon is always fine, but a relish or sauce works well, too. And since it’s summer and I’m swimming in grape tomatoes, I opt for the sweet and smoky flavors of roasted tomatoes.
The only way to screw up a fish is over-cooking. So don’t! A good rule of thumb is 10 minutes for a 1-inch cut fillet. But you can go a bit longer to 15 minutes. You just don’t want to dry it out. I like to broil sea bass. A little butter, a drop of wine, and a fresh herb is all you need (or if you’re my husband, breadcrumbs, too). Flaky, fresh and light. Perfect!
photo credit: Jodi Helman
Sea Bass with Roasted Tomatoes
1 lb. sea bass (about 1 ½ inches thick)
1 tsp. olive oil
3 T. dry white wine
salt & pepper
1 T. butter
1 tsp. chopped thyme
1 tsp. whole wheat breadcrumbs (optional)
Lower the topmost oven rack to the 2nd position under the broiler. You don’t want the fish too close to the flame/heat source. Preheat the oven to broil.
Pat the fish dry with paper towels. Drizzle the olive oil on a foil-lined pan, then place the fish in the pan, skin-side down. Dot the fish with butter, sprinkle salt, pepper and thyme on top. Add the wine to the pan and place in the oven for 2-3 minutes, allowing the butter to melt and the wine to bubble.
Remove from oven, spoon liquids over fish, then add the breadcrumbs. Broil for another 12 minutes. Remove from oven to a platter, and spoon pan liquids around the fish. Serve with roasted tomatoes.
Pureed Roasted Tomatoes
1 ½ cups washed grape tomatoes, left whole
1-2 T. olive oil (for roasting)
4-5 basil leaves
¼ cup olive oil (for pureeing)
Preheat oven to 425. Coat a foil-lined pan with cooking spray. Toss the tomatoes with oil and salt, then roast in oven for 1 hour. Check to see if most of the liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes are starting to blacken.
Remove from oven and place tomatoes and basil in a food processor. Add olive oil and puree until you have a smooth consistency. Taste for salt & pepper.