Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Black Sea Bass al Cartoccio

Our Wednesday night dinners are a thing of the past now that I am working that shift again at the restaurant. So, dinner has shifted more to Monday nights and this Monday we were both in the mood for fish. And I just happened to have bought a lot of Black Sea Bass landed in Norfolk. This is a fairly delicate fish that responds well to simple and subtle treatments; it is a fish that I love when poached. But I didn't feel like doing a court bouillon at home just to poach fish for three people, so I did the next best thing, wrapped them in silicone paper and roasted them in the oven al cartoccio or as I learned it in French en papillote.

Making fish this way couldn't be simpler. Lay a full sheet of silicone paper on a half sheet tray; place the fish on the paper; sprinkle with salt, pepper, and fresh herbs (in this case Thai basil); give it a spritz of white wine (I used a little Champagne); fold the paper back over the fish, and fold up the edges to seal the fish in a tidy packet. Place in a hot oven (400F) for just slightly longer than you would if it were not in the packet. In this case, 12 minutes was plenty. Ordinarily, they would have roasted on an open sheet tray about 9 or 10 minutes.

To accompany the bass, we had a lemongrass-flavored quinoa. I made a lemongrass broth by steeping two large stalks of lemongrass in water for a half an hour and then cooked the quinoa in the broth. After draining the quinoa, it got a pinch of salt and the Thai basil chiffonade leftover from roasting the fish. Simple, delicious, and very healthy.

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