Posts Tagged ‘sea bass’

Lesson 21 Fish with leek base

There are numerous techniques for cooking fish from whole roasting, poaching, braising and sautéing but in this lesson for the first time – cooking fish in plastic wrap in the oven.  I suppose this is somewhat similar to poaching or cooking sous vide which also uses low temperature cooking.

The balance of the dish was excellent with the gently cooked sea bass filet and beautifully glazed tender baby vegetables.  The fish filet, 700 g, is first liberally sprinkled with salt and placed in the refrigerator to cure for 20 to 25 minutes.   The filet is then rinsed, wrapped in plastic and then portioned into 175 g steaks.  Then placed on a baking tray in the oven set at 65 C.  The steaks can take up to 40 minutes to cook.

In the meantime, the trimmed bottom portion of the leek, slightly green and white, is cooked in salted water until very tender.  It is then drained, patted dry and placed between two pieces of parchment paper and gently flattened with the flat side of a cleaver or a rolling pin.   This will be placed on the plate as a base for the fish.  Done in advance, it can be placed on parchment and rewarmed in the oven at 180 C for 5 minutes then gently slid onto the plate.

The baby vegetables all get the same glazing treatment in separate pans.  Peeled and clean vegetables, a ¼ bay leaf, a sprig of thyme, a little water, a knob of butter, good pinch of salt and a paper lid are placed in a pan on med heat and cooked until the liquid is almost evaporated.  At the end of the cooking process swirl the veg in the pan to glaze with the lovely buttery sauce that has developed.  Ready to plate!

Herb – parsley, tarragon, watercress – leaves and stems are separated.  The leaves blanched in salted water and the stems are chopped and sautéed with butter, onion, a clove of minced garlic and 200 ml of chicken stock until soft.  Then all is pureed in a blender.

The flavors are all very mellow but absolutely delicious!  The fish is delicate and moist and complemented perfectly by the buttery glazed vegetables.   The aromatic coulis adds a splash of color and herbaceous goodness that takes it from bland to bam!

These flavors would also translate well to other white fish such as cod or tilapia or other forms of cooking such as sautéing or poaching, so if sea bass is a little to rich for your pocket book just do a swap.  Use your extra cash for great bottle of Sauvignon Blanc!

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Chef Terrien’s Lovely Baba Pie

According to Chef Terrien, who hosted this demonstration, Russian Babas apparently inspired this dish.  A peasant dish made up of what ever were at hand, leftovers in a pastry crust served with a butter sauce to cover up any tasteless sins.  How did this every come to France?  Well apparently the dish was so popular in Russia that Escoffier brought it to France and included in his famous cookbook “The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery”.  How is this modern if Baba’s are making it?

Following Chef Terrien requires a lot of espresso.  The demonstration table was littered with bowls and ingredients, which was a marked change from our mentor Chef Clergue.   Was that butter in the dessert, the main or the entrée?  Is that sauce for the entree or the main?   It’s no wonder everyone was a bit off the mark in the practical.

The recipe is for a “coulibiac”, which is a Russian dish consisting of a stuffing of sturgeon, salmon, rice, eggs, mushrooms and dill in a pastry shell according to Wikipedia.  Our recipe was pimped up with pink sea bass; quails eggs and parsley but followed the basic principles.  I’d never seen a pink sea bass before and it was a rather gorgeous fish (before I gutted and fileted it of course).

I decided to make two small fish “loaves” or “coulibiacs” rather than one large one as in the practical. I could easily give away a whole uncut version, and food that has been pre-plated is not that appetizing.   Not much redeeming for me in this recipe, but I made an excellent butter sauce to go along with my not so gorgeous fish “loaf”.   A yeast pastry filled with layers of sea bass, seasoned rice, salmon and quails eggs.   It is a lot of work for a fish pie if you ask me.  Babas must have a lot of time on their hands.

The best part of the recipe, cheese stuffed tomato garnish.  Some elements are timeless!   Continue for Stuffed Tomato Recipe


My version of fish pie


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I constantly find myself in a state of surprise as to how much my tastes have changed over the years.  There were moments in time where I would not eat onions, olives, mushrooms, eggs, fish, liver, duck – I could go on but you get the point.   My mother was a very patient woman and “lovingly” prepared a separate plate for me eliminating things I didn’t like – or perhaps it was less frustrating to prepare a different plate than to watch a young girl pout and pick onions out of her meatballs?

It’s taken a number of years to come to the conclusion that my mother’s adage, “you’ll never know until to try it”, was wise advice I should have taken years back.

And so I it was with a little trepidation that I began Lesson 19.  The technique new to me in this lesson was “cooking” fish without heat or in a word “ceviche”.  I had little experience with this cooking method having rarely encountered ceviche on the menu in restaurants nor tried it at home.   This was a little test for me to explore just how far I had come and whether I was open to giving new foods a try.

Ceviche is popular in Mediterranean and South American cooking where fish is prevalent in the regional diets.   Raw thin slices of fish or small pieces of seafood are marinated with oil and aromatic herbs.  Then the fish is “cooked” by sprinkling the pieces with lemon or lime juice and/or salt which react to change the structure of the product from raw to cooked.  The “cooking” process is complete in around 10 minutes.  In the modern version ceviche it kept slightly rare therefore “ceviche” needs to be served quite quickly after citrus juice has been added.


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