Monday, 12 May 2014

Bloodless Orange, Sea Bass and Fennel

The sun was shining brightly and the azure sky is drawing me away from the winter staples towards salads, fish etc. A quick look at the fridge and fruit bowl revealed a nice head of fennel, a good sized sea bass and blood oranges (or not as the case may be). I love fennel and orange which both work well with sea bass so tonight's planned meal is pan seared sea bass with a blood orange butter sauce, fennel and some green olives to add a bit of bite. I only need the juice from the blood orange but I don't want to waste the rind so I will carefully removed it so as not to take any of the bitter pith. Placed it in a bag with a little vodka to start drawing out those tasty oils. This will get cooked off in the sous vide later at 70C with the rest of a bottle of vodka that will then be added to a cup and a half of simple syrup to make a pleasant orange liqueur.

Back to the meal in hand. First I de-scaled and filleted the sea bass. Trim the spines and fins carefully with scissors. Then lay the fish on its side on a chopping board. With a sharp knife, cut towards the gill as shown.

Now, turn the knife and cut along the spine as shown (you will feel the knife running across the spine and through the lateral bones) and a good fillet will lift off.

Turn the fish over and repeat the exercise. You now have two good fillets that still contain the lateral bones. You can either use pliers to remove these or try this method. Run the knife down either side or the lateral bones taking care not to cut through the skin. Now, using fish pliers, pull the bones and connecting tissue out in one ribbon (sorry about the colour the flash failed)

Now came the horror. The blood oranges are anemic !!! No rich red colour (though there might be more rouge when I speak to my greengrocer next week).

Never mind, apart from the colour (which I could have faked with a little beetroot) I can add a slightly more tart taste with a splash of fresh lime. Panic over I cleaned 3 oranges, juiced 2.5 of them and left a half to add a segment or two to the finished dish. I now brought the juice to the boil, added some fresh coriander leaf and reduced this down to a sticky consistency. A tablespoon of clarified butter, a few green olives and we are almost ready to go.

In the meantime I brought some salted water to the boil and added some sliced fennel to soften it. While this happened, I brought a skillet to heat and seared the bass fillets. Time to bring the meal together and in less than 10 minutes (cooking time, preparing the fish takes a minute or two with practice)