Parmesan Crusted Wild Sea Bass
Every once in a while I come across a recipe that I consider “as good as it gets” and this recipe for Parmesan Crusted Wild Sea Bass is one of them. I adapted this recipe from one of my favorite cooking magazines Cuisine at Home. Their recipe calls for halibut but when I went to one of my favorite seafood stores, Bywood Seafood Market, I was told fresh halibut was out of season so I opted for wild sea bass which worked perfectly fine.
This recipe is so good I’m sure any meaty white fish would work. In fact, there was some left over “crazy water” (read on) leftovers so I duplicated the dish with chicken thighs the next night and served it with the broth and it too was delicious. I think it would have been better with boneless chicken breasts but I had boneless thighs on hand from the local Farmer’s Market.
The “crazy water” I mentioned above is a simple broth that traditionally the fish is poached in. It consists of vegetables, water, wine, herbs and a few special ingredients to give the broth an incredibly flavorful taste that you then cook orzo pasta in to give the broth some extra body.
In this recipe, we don’t poach the fish but instead roast it so the parmesan crust can firm up and get crisp. It doesn’t take long at all to prepare this dish, only 15 minutes to roast the fish and prepare the broth. It takes more time to prep the ingredients and I highly recommend you practice “mise en place” before you start cooking. That is get all your ingredients prepped before you start. As you can see from the list below, there are a lot of ingredients but I found I had most of them in my pantry already.
The original recipe is for 2 people and calls for two 4 oz. halibut fillets but I purchased 2 pounds of wild sea bass and cut 6 individual steaks for four adults and 2 kids and there was enough for everyone.
I highly recommend you try this recipe and would love to hear your comments about you’ve tried it. I think there are lots of variations you could make to this recipe and I’d like to hear what you come up with.
Parmesan Crusted Sea Bass Recipe
1/2 cup panko crumbs (these are Japanese bread crumbs but regular bread crumbs work fine too)
4 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese (buy a chunk of Parmesan and grate it yourself - much better)
zest of 1 lemon, finely minced
12 oz. purchased or homemade pesto
2 pounds wild sea bass, cut into 6 steaks spray olive oil
For the Broth (Crazy Water)
1/2 large red onion, minced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups water
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
1/2 cup dry orzo pasta
2 teaspoons sugar
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup coarsely chopped zucchini
1 - 7.5 ounce jar of roasted red peppers, cut into thin strips (learn how to roast your own peppers)
1/2 cup of kalamata olives, halved and pitted
4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped juice from the zested lemon above Salt & Pepper, to taste
How To Prepare At Home
As I said at the start of this post, this recipe doesn't take long to cook, but you'll want to have all your ingredients prepped (mise en place) before you start. The recipe also suggests preparing the bread crumbs, adding them to the fish and refrigerating ahead of time (up to 4 hours) but make the broth just before serving. This is a great idea especially if you are having a dinner party and want to hang out with your friends.
As always, preheat the oven to 450º F.
Combine the panko (bread crumbs) with Parmesan cheese, lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Apply a spoonful of pesto on the non-skin side of each sea bass steak and then top with the bread crumb mixture. Press the bread crumbs into the pesto with the back of your spoon. Spray each steak with a little spray oil, transfer to a baking sheet that has been coated with some spray oil and refrigerate until you are going to prepare the broth.
To Make the Broth
Start by heating up a saute pan over medium-high heat, adding oil, and sauteing the onions and garlic. Saute for 3 - 4 minutes until the onions are translucent. Remove the pan from the heat and add wine to deglaze the pan. Return the pan to the heat and simmer until the wine is reduced to an essence. Add the water and stir in the tomatoes, orzo, sugar and fresh thyme. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the orzo is cooked. While the orzo is simmering, it's time to roast the sea bass.
Roasting Wild Sea Bass
Remove the baking sheet with the sea bass from the refrigerator and roast in your preheated oven for 12 minutes. The panko bread crumbs should be golden and the fish white and flaky.
Finish & Serving
When the orzo is done, add the roasted pepper strips, zucchini and kalamata olives to the broth and simmer until heated through. Remove the pan from the heat and add the fresh parsley and fresh lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
When it's time to serve, add some of the broth (crazy water) with vegetables to shallow bowls and place a sea bass steak into each. Serve.
Hope you get to try this and let us know what you think. This dish is outrageous!
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