It looks right, and it tasted very right.
I finally managed to prepare a bass filet, a very fresh bass filet (actually 2) in a way that it would show and be enjoyed in its purest form, elegantly minimal, seasoned with salt alone, and with a crispy skin, but I just couldn’t help slipping a little micro green underneath, and tossing some micro flower on top.
There wasn’t any lemon in sight, but sorrel has something of a lemon-ish thing going for it.
The technique is from a page I found on line, ‘Perfect Seared Fish‘, written by Hank Shaw, who describes himself as a former line cook, but who, it becomes obvious, is much more than that. I was afraid of what seemed some very precise cautions in his instructions, but last night I made it all the way through his prescriptions, and the result fulfilled all my expectations.
Oh, and because Barry knew he’d need many glasses of water during dinner, because of the heat, he let me have the rest of his bottle of Gerolsteiner, which is naturally carbonated. It’s probably my favorite for-profit water, although the fact that it has to be shipped all of the way from my family’s Heimat is problematic, and also makes it only a special occasion indulgence.
- two 8-ounce striped bass filets from American Seafood Company removed from refrigeration, salted a little, allowed to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes, and while a seasoned steel pan was heating up above a high flame, the skin side scraped with a butter knife to remove excess moisture, both sides patted dry with a paper towel, a tablespoon, or a little more, of Mac Nut macademia nut oil from Whole Foods Market poured into the pan and swirled to cover the bottom and heat the oil, the filets placed skin side down inside it, immediately jiggled to ensure that the fish doesn’t stick, the flesh side of the filets salted and the heat turned down to medium-high, the filets pressed down lightly with a spatula for 30 to 60 seconds, to ensure that the skin browns evenly, cooked without moving them for 3 or 4 minutes, then, the pan shaken to see that the filets moved easily, the bass turned over with the spatula while stabilizing them with the help of a free hand, and cooked for another minute, maybe a bit more, and the heat turned off, roughly half of the way through, a tablespoon and a half of rich 12% fat butter added to the pan, swirled so it melted swiftly, and a generous bit of micro sorrel from Windfall Farms tossed into the butter and mixed with it, the pan tilted and the sauce poured onto the plates, the filets placed on top of the sauce, sprinkled with some scissored spring shallot blossoms from Keith’s Farm
- a few stems of spring flowering shallots from Keith’s Farm, chopped, sautéed lightly inside an antique medium copper pan in a little olive oil,followed by two handfuls of very ripe red and golden grape tomatoes from Alex’s New Jersey Tomato Farm, at Chelsea’s Down to Earth Farmers Market on 23rd Street, washed, halved, heated, sprinkled with sea salt and freshy-ground black pepper, tossed with some beautiful summer savory from Alewife Farm, chopped
- some second-growth asparagus from Berried Treasures Farm, in many lengths and thicknesses, trimmed, the stems of the few larger ones peeled, tossed gradually, the thickest spears first, in a tablespoon of butter and less than a tablespoon of olive oil heated inside a large enameled rectangular cast iron pan, then sautéed over medium high heat while frequently rolling or turning them until they were beginning to brown (about 15 minutes), finished with a sprinkling of Maldon salt and freshly-ground black pepper, sprigs of lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge tossed in with the asparagus part of the way through their cooking
- the wine was an American (Long Island) rosé (from grapes and a winery near the home port of the boat that brought in the bass, Wolffer Estate, Long Island Rose, 2017, from Flatiron Wines
- the music was Counterstream Radio, streaming