I’ve been having a lot of fun with citrus dishes this month; both in coming up with different recipes using oranges and lemons and enjoying their bright flavors. My Italian market had some gorgeous sea bass over the weekend and what better to go with lemons than fish! This sea bass not only presented so colorful, the taste was amazing!! A gorgeous relish topping in a blend of tart and tangy flavor with a touch of honey sweetness really complimented this mild tasting fish.
As I purchase all my meats and seafood from this market I’ve become very familiar with the guys and can always count on them to select the perfect cuts for me. I learned early on to develop a relationship with the butcher and fish mongers. Getting to “first name basis” and I find they will provide lots of helpful information, cooking tips, what’s a better buy for that day and all around outstanding service!!
Sea Bass does have some pretty thick bones. Not a lot, but after having served this one time for a special dinner and my guest finding a bone, I am overly careful now to check! The best way I know is to simply run my finger over the fish and use my kitchen pliers or tweezers to pull them out. This one was really difficult and I had to push down with a fork to grasp some of the bones.
To prepare it, I decided to pan roast the sea bass as it was quite thick. I prepared the relish earlier in the day and simply seared the fish in a cast iron skillet and placed it in the oven to finish cooking. If sea bass is not available, any other firm, mild flavored fish could be used like cod or flounder.
Pan Roasted Sea Bass with Lemon Olive Relish
For the Sea Bass:
4 6 oz sea bass fillets
Sea salt (or Kosher) and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup chopped fresh parsley and thyme (or a mix of fresh herbs)
4 thinly sliced lemons
Olive oil for searing
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Using a cast iron skillet, heat the pan over medium high heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season the sea bass with salt and pepper and rub the fresh herbs on each side. When the pan is hot, place the fillets in the pan, do not crowd. Place a few lemon slices around the pan. Sear for a few minutes and turn. I like to sear both sides before placing in the oven. The amount of time in the oven will be determined by the thickness of the fillet. As these were fairly thick, I roasted them for about 6 minutes. I tested the fillet by checking the firmness with my finger. Remove the skillet from the oven and allow to rest just a few minutes. Discard the lemon slices and plate the sea bass with a generous scoop of relish allowing the liquid to pour and soak in.
For the lemon olive relish:
½ cup chopped green olives with pimentos
1 shallot, minced
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut the ends off the lemons and set on the flat side. Following the curve of the lemon, cut away the peel and white pith. Holding the lemon over a bowl to catch the juice, cut out each lemon segment, discarding the seeds. Coarsely chop the lemon and olives. Mix together the shallot, honey, vinegar and parsley in the bowl with the lemon juice. Add in the lemons and olives. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper – not too much salt as the olives may have a salty taste. Set aside until ready to use.