Chilean Sea Bass and Cherry Cheesecake Crisp

Chilean Sea Bass and Cherry Cheesecake Crisp

Hahaha, that's a lot of alliteration in one menu!

I stopped at Ralphs yesterday to see if they had any artichokes (my market hasn't had any in a few weeks, it's an artichoke crisis!!!), and after I greedily nabbed a few, I decided to swing by the meat and seafood counter to see if anything jumped out at me.  Not literally, that would be weird. And against the health regulations. Anyhow, I wasn't in the mood for steak (for once!), so I lingered over the seafood section. I spied a package of a white fish that didn't look like the usual white fish suspects, sole, red snapper, or cod; it was Sea Bass! I don't think I've seen Sea Bass at the store in years. Luckily for me, it was marked down for fast sale, so I picked it up. While looking up recipes for it, I discovered it's on SeafoodWatch.org's avoid list for being unsustainable and also do to higher mercury levels.  According to the website, "Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing has depleted some populations of Chilean seabass"  and also that some of the fishing methods are harmful to the waterfowl that eat sea bass. Had I known all of this, I wouldn't have bought the fish, even though this is wild-caught and is MSC certified. Eh, I don't know, I won't rule it out. But I do prefer to stick with sustainable and environmentally beneficial best practices whenever I can. ANYHOW...

I am not really a huge fan of fish; I don't have a reason for it, I just prefer beef.  But I am in the process of switching my dogs over to a fish and sweet potato grain free food, and their fur is getting all soft and shiny from the omega 3s, and I can't have my dogs having better hair than me. So, to make the fish tasty, and because I heart fatty sauces, I opted for Julia Child's port and cream reduction sauce with shallots, garlic, and fresh cracked black pepper. That sauce would make my shoe taste good, so it has to work on a piece of fish.  For cooking the fish, I decided against the oven, which seems to be a popular cooking method for sea bass. Since it was over 100 degrees yesterday, I was not going to turn on my oven. (Apparently, that rule doesn't hold for the upper 90's, as when I slow roasted marrow bones for demi-glace.)   I hadn't tried sous viding fish yet, so that seemed like a good choice. I seasoned the fillet with salt and pepper, and vacuum sealed it in a bag, stopping the vacuum before it compressed the filet.  (one L or two in the word fillet? I'm just going to alternate between the two spellings so I have a 50% chance of being right.)  Into the sous vide at 140 degrees it went, for 20 minutes.  While that worked away, I reduced the sauce, steamed an artichoke, and pulled out my long neglected mandolin to  thinly slice zucchini and carrot ribbons, which I then steamed. (What a healthy dinner this would be without the sauce!) (haha, that's never going to happen. ; )  I spooned the sauce into the serving dish, folded the ribbons into an artistic mess on top of the sauce, and then topped the whole mess with the perfect white fillet. Filet.  A few chives on top for color, and that was that!

I love the colors! It's such a pretty dish. And the taste? Fantastic. The sauce is, of course, amazing, and goes as well with the vegetables as it does with fish or chicken. The Chilean Sea Bass is wonderful; it has a delicate flavor, and was so buttery soft from being cooked in the sous vide that it was like a perfectly cooked scallop. And we all know how much I love scallops! And so, that is how my resolve about eating CSB went from "never again!!" to "well, from MSC certified sources is okay..." : )

I know I've kvetched alot about not liking fruit, but I've noticed in the last year that I tend to buy fruit if I am very thirsty. Of course, as soon as I get home, I drink water, and then I don't want to eat the fruit anymore. ; ) But the last time I bought fruit, I picked up a bag of cherries, and they were so perfect I had to use them. I couldn't decide on a specific dish, so I combined two, cherry crisp and cherry cheesecake.  The bottom layer is cherries with a touch of lemon for brightness, and cornstarch to thicken the juices as it bakes. The middle layer is cream cheese, with an egg, sugar, and vanilla mixed in. The top layer is an oatmeal / brown sugar / gluten free flour mixture held together with melted butter.  I baked it at 350 for 45 minutes, until the cherry juice was thick and bubbly, and then topping was browned and a little crunchy. I like it soo much that next time, I'm going to double the cheesecake layer! See, I DO like fruit sometimes! ; )

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