Monday, May 05, 2008

Fish Dish

Sat 3 May 2008

At the risk of sounding very much like Marcus Wareing's PR lady, I've made yet another dish from his (so far) excellent One Perfect Ingredient. This time, it was the sea bass with pine nut crust. Not every recipe in the book is illustrated, but this one is and the fish looks absolutely fantastic.

I think Wareing's recipe is more complicated than it need be, so what follows is my 2 person Wareing-inspired fish dish.

We bought one sea bass at the market (£3.20) and had the fish monger fillet it. Leave the skin on.

The topping requires just butter, garlic, dill and pine nuts. I began by toasting about 25g of pine nuts, but I think that even this is a little unnecessary. So my pine nuts were only lightly toasted, before they were blitzed. I then added about 50g of unsalted butter (the slightly warm pine nuts meant that it ended up malleable, which is probably worth a quick turn in the pan with the nuts in itself!), some roughly chopped dill and a clove of garlic. When this mixture is well combined, add a further 25g of pine nuts and chop until they just begin to break up. Leave some texture in your paste.

I then made a couple of slashes in the fish skin before slathering on the butter and pine nut paste. Rub it in to the slashes but remembe you're making a crust, so build it up and cover the fish generously.

Because sea bass fillets are quite slender, I heated some oil in a grill proof pan, put the fillets in (skin/crust side up) and, after about a minute, put the whole pan under a pre-heated grill. A few minutes later, the crust was bubbling and the fish was cooked.

I served the fish with potatoes sautéed in duck fat and a simple salad (lettuce, tomato, red onion and chevre), with a dressing made from olive oil, red wine vinegar and a spoonful of the butter topping. Finish the plate with some more chopped dill and a sprinkling of black pepper ... and supper is served.

I think you could get away with drinking your favourite white wine with this dish. We could have even finished off our afternoon tea ... if there had been any left. We'd enjoyed a bottle of Gosset NV Brut Excellence Champagne, which we'd bought for about €20 in Cologne Airport. I have a friend who raves about Gosset, but this was my first taste - and, for an entry level wine, I was very impressed. I'd certainly be happy to invest in another of their more expensive wines! A blend of all three Champagne grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier), this wine had some of the weight and complexity that you'd expect from a vintage. I thought the nose more complex than the palate, showing plenty of bready, biscuity and even brioche aromas. The palate wasn't quite as clever, but it is a good savoury Champagne and would certainly go well with food. In fact, although I have doubts about how the dill would work, the bubbles and acidity could well make it a good match for sea bass with a rich, buttery crust!

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