This recipe reminded me of Zuni's restaurant in San Francisco. (Haven't been? You must go!) The sauce was reminiscent of the jus they do for their specialty roast chicken. You know, the one you have to wait 45 minutes that's cooked in a wood fire oven and worth every second? This dish, Croustillant de Bar Au Pain Perdu, is fish, but it has a chicken jus combined with brown butter and the salad has a tangy red wine shallot vinegar dressing that compliments the fish and the chicken jus perfectly.
Even Jamie, my cooking partner at Le Cordon Bleu, who made the worst grimaces when the chef brought out a tin of capers during our demonstration, couldn't get enough of the sauce. And she's a vegetarian! I saw her gobble down the chicken jus like there was no tomorrow! I might have been sighted licking my plate, but I wouldn't want to admit to that in public.
The toughest part of this dish is wrangling with the sea bass. They are huge with fins that poke holes in your fingers, and big scales with tough skin. I filleted one huge one (1.5 feet) for us to share and it took me at least thirty minutes. Thankfully Jamie compensated and prepared our jus from carmelized chicken bones and chicken stock as well as most of the garnishes. By the way, if you haven't already check out my video on filleting fish it should be running smoother.
I have simplified the recipe because most of us don't have the luxury of using thirty million pots and pans and taking the time to make homemade chicken stock. If Rachel Ray only has 20 minutes to whip up chili, then how are the rest of us supposed to manage? The sauce is an old popular French recette that can be used to accompany poultry, white fish, or eve perhaps breaded veal.
Recipe is on the next page...
Just bought the Zuni cookbook and it's incredible. My French chefs would have a fit it they read some of her techniques, but I love it! She won two James Beard awards for outstanding restaurant and oustanding cookbook. Worth the splurge
Crispy Sea Bass with Lemon & CapersSpinach Salad
One part vegetable oil to three parts red wine vinegar for salad dressing
Big pinch of salt and pepper
One shallot finely diced
Sliced toasted almonds to sprinkle over
Two fillets around 200g/person
Small croutons made from dry white bread
1/2 stick melted butter
Two chicken wings, hacked into 1" pieces
One can chicken stock (without salt)
Brown butter made from a 1/2 stick (let butter melt over medium heat until it starts to turn a nut color then remove it and keep warm)
One lemon, segmented
Two Tablespoons of capers
1. Chop chicken wings and brown in a small skillet on medium heat with a little oil. Once bottom of pan starts to turn brown add shallots and stir. Don't burn the chicken, just brown it. Deglaze with chicken stock and reduce by half.
2. Make dressing for salad by whisking all ingredients together. (except spinach! – add at end)
3. Take fish and brush egg mixture over then pat on croutons to form a crust. Drizzle melted butter over croutons. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to fry.
4. One sauce is reduced, strain and whisk in brown butter. Add lemon segments and capers before serving.
5. Heat a nonstick skillet on medium heat and add a little butter and peanut oil. Then add fish crouton side down and let cook until brown. Flip and cook a few more minutes. Transter to a parchment lined baking sheet and bake the fish for another 7 minutes and 350˚F or until done.
Serve fish on top of sauce with spinach salad next to it.