Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Pan fried Seabass
Pan fried Seabass
I’ve learned that the simpler you prepare most fish, the better. I like to
pan-fry sea bass fillets for a quick supper at home with my wife after
the boys have gone to bed. The fish goes well with lots of things—
a mixed leaf or endive salad, pasta or rice, or new potatoes tossed
with chopped fresh mint and butter.
1 whole sea bass, weighing
1/2–3lb (1.1–1.35kg), scaled,
cleaned, and cut into 2 long fillets (ask the fishmonger
to do this you should end up with fillets weighing about 300g/10oz each)
sea salt and freshly milled
Check for tiny pin bones in the flesh side of the fish and pull
them out with pliers. Turn the fish over and score the skin, then cut each
fillet in half crosswise to make four portions altogether. Season the
scored skin with a little salt and pepper.
Put a large, non-stick skillet over high heat, splash in enough
oil to cover the bottom thinly, and heat until hot.
Lower the heat to medium-high, put in the fish skin side down,
and cook undisturbed for 4 minutes until the skin is crisp and golden.
Don’t shake the pan or move the fillets as this will cause moisture to
come out of the fish—then the skin will stick to the pan and tear. If the
pan gets too hot, draw it to the side of the heat and pour in a little cold
oil to cool it down, then return it to the heat.
Turn the fish over and cook undisturbed for 2 minutes on the second
side, basting with the hot oil so that it runs into the crevices in the skin.
To serve, place the sea bass skin side up on four plates and drizzle with
the pan juices. Dust with white pepper if you like.
Key to perfection
The skin of sea bass must be scored so the fish will stay flat during cooking. If the fish
isn’t flat, it won’t cook evenly, and you won’t be able to tell if it’s done or not.
With a very sharp, large knife and a sawing action, cut diagonal slashes
through the skin of each fillet. Make the score lines close together, and cut
right through the skin just into the fish. If you haven’t scored the skin properly,
or you’ve forgotten to score it at all, the fish will curl at the edges as soon
as it goes in the pan, and then it won’t cook evenly. Quickly press it hard with
a spatula to force it down flat. You’ll find it quite powerful and strong, so
you’ll need to use some force. At the end of the cooking time, turn
each piece of fish over onto its skin side again. Push down on the fish
with your fingertips and hold them there for 10–15 seconds. The fish is
ready when it feels firm, not spongy, and it should be removed from the
hot pan immediately.