Sunday Brunch: Pan-Seared Bass

WGN Weekend Morning News
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Chef Rick Moonen, master development chef at Perry’s Restaurants, stopped by Sunday Brunch to share his recipe for Pan Seared Bass with Creamy Corn and Red Pepper Coulis.

Yield: 12 Entrée Portions


3 cups Cilantro leaves, packed
1 cup Grapeseed oil, chilled
4 whole Scallions, rough chop
1 whole Jalapeno, with seeds, chopped
3 cloves Garlic
¼ cup Ice
Pinch Coarse sea salt
12 8-Ounce Sea Bass fillet portions, skin-off
1/2 pound Unsalted Butter
Creamy Corn (see recipe below)
Red Bell Pepper Coulis (see recipe below)
Lemon Wedges
Cilantro Microgreens for garnish

Make the Cilantro Oil:

In a blender combine the cilantro, chilled oil, scallions, jalapeno, salt and garlic. With the motor running add the ice to keep the mixture cold while you are pulverizing the mixture. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, pushing down to extract all color and solids. Save in the refrigerator.

Marinate the Fish:

Season the fish on both sides generously with salt and pepper. Put it into a sealable plastic bag and coat with cilantro oil. Work the oil around so the fish is completely coated. Seal the bag and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours (overnight preferred).

When you’re ready to cook, remove the fish from the bag and scrape any excess marinade from the fillets.

Heat two 12-inch skillets over medium-high heat. When the pan’s good and hot, cut 4 tablespoons of butter into pieces and add it to the skillet. When the butter is melted and has stopped sizzling, add the fish. Turn the heat down to medium, and lightly press down on the fish with a spatula; this helps get the fish started on its way to browning.

After about 60 seconds, cut the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter into pieces and add them to the skillet. As the butter melts, tilt and pull the skillet toward you and start basting the fish, using that big spoon to pour the bubbling butter over the fish. You’re pulling the skillet toward you so the fish will get the benefit of the heat, even though you have the pan tilted. As you cook and baste, the butter will brown, and that nuttiness will flavor the fish. Cook, basting constantly, for 4-5 minutes. Then turn the fish over in the skillet and turn off the heat. Let the fish sit for 2 minutes. If you stick a knife in to check, the black cod will look slightly rare in the center. That’s good; carry-over heat will finish the cooking.

To serve, spread some of the creamy corn into the center of four dinner plates. Set the fish on the corn, surround with the coulis, and give each piece of fish a squirt of lemon.

About Butter-Basting Fish

Remember the days of rich butter sauces served on fish? Elegant, delicious sauces like beurre noisette that made you smack your lips. Well, we’re not eating those sauces so much these days, but with butter-basting, you’ll find that you get that nutty taste of browned butter without all the fat.

Melt some butter in a large skillet and add the fish, skin side down. Press down on the fish with a spatula to set the skin in the hot butter. Then add more butter, enough so you can baste the fish effectively. As the fish cooks, the butter browns, and the almost continuous basting bathes the fish in the flavor of browned butter.

Creamy Corn:

12 ears Fresh Corn on the Cob
6 cups Heavy cream
10 Tbs Yellow Corn Meal (polenta), toasted in the oven
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Cut the kernels from the cobs. With the back of your knife scrape the cobs to extract all of the milky juices imbedded in there. In a large stainless pot, bring the cream to a simmer, whisk in the cornmeal. When the cream begins to thicken…Fold in the corn, with the juices. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to keep at an slow simmer and cook for about10 minutes, stirring frequently, until thick.

Red Bell Pepper Coulis:

4 Tbs Extra Virgin olive oil
5 whole shallots, chopped
12 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Large red bell peppers, small dice
2 cups cooked and peeled Pequillo peppers
1 cup dry white wine
4 TBS Champagne Vinegar
2 cups Extra Virgin Olive oil
TT Salt

Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. When the pan’s hot, add the 4 Tbs of oil, shallots, and garlic. Sauté, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the bell pepper, season with salt, and sauté, stirring often, until the pepper is starting to get tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the piquillo peppers. Don’t let the pepper brown. Pour in the wine and cook until the wine has reduced by half. Scrape everything into a blender. Let cool for a couple of minutes, then process until smooth. Scrape the puree down. Turn the blender back on and pour in the vinegar and then incorporate 1-2 cups of oil to taste, in a steady stream.


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