Seared Wild Striped Bass with Sauteed Spring Vegetables
1 bunch asparagus, snapped where it wants to naturally break
2 cups sugar snap peas, tips and strings removed
1 cup shelled fava beans
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 cup morel mushrooms, cleaned and cut lengthwise in 1/2
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
4 (6-ounce) wild striped bass fillets, with skin
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice water and salt it well. Place the asparagus in the boiling water and cook until the water comes back to a rolling boil. Remove and place it immediately in the salted ice water. When the asparagus has cooled completely, remove it from the water and reserve. Repeat this process with the sugar snap peas and then the fava beans. You can use the same blanching water for all of the veggies, just be sure to always do the fava beans last. Fava beans have very high iron content and will turn the blanching water black. After the beans are blanched and cooled, remove the tough outer skin to reveal a lovely spring green fava bean.
For the veggies:
Coat a large saute pan with olive oil. Smash the three garlic cloves with the heel of your hand and add to the saute pan. Bring the pan to a medium high heat. When the garlic has become golden brown and very aromatic remove it from the pan and discard it. It has fulfilled its garlic destiny. Add the mushrooms and stock, season generously with salt, and saute for 1 minute. Add the prepared veggies, season with salt and saute until all the ingredients are coated with oil and hot and almost all the stock has evaporated. Serve immediately or later at room temperature.
For the fish:
Take the fish out of the refrigerator about 10 to 15 minutes before using. Pat the skin dry with a paper towel and season the fish on both sides with salt. Heat a large saute pan coated generously with extra virgin olive oil over high heat. Coat the bottom of another slightly smaller saute pan with olive oil. Gently place the fish fillets skin side down in the saute pan and place the other saute pan directly on top of the fish. The purpose of this is to gently press the skin of the bass onto the bottom of the saute pan to create a lovely crispy fish skin. Be sure to oil the bottom of the top saute pan or the fish will stick to it. After a couple of minutes remove the top saute pan from the fish, this will allow the steam to escape and the skin to become very crispy. As fish cooks it turns from translucent to opaque. The idea is to cook the fish 2/3's of the way on the skin side and flip it over for the last 1/3 of the cooking time. The rule for fish is about 7 to 8 minutes per inch of thickness, a little less if you like your fish more on the rare side.
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