This was the dish that in many ways, I was most uncertain about. I love pan-seared fish, but it's notoriously difficult to pull off at home. I spent about 3 weekends developing my technique, beginning with the fresh fish.
Pan-seared striped bass, served over simmered Ontario beets. I bought the fish live, had it gutted and cleaned. It was still quivering as I filleted. Apologies, but I wanted to eat you. I've learned how to fillet clean enough so that the meat doesn't tear and I'm losing a minimal amount stuck on the bone. I don't trust store bought fillets because they take the skin off and you can't sear it without skin.
Begin with the beets. These Ontario beets had the most amazing pink colour, with a spiral of red and white flesh rolling around inside. Just beautiful. Diced into perfect little cubes. I wanted to keep a few rectangles, to show this pattern. Sautée quickly in olive oil, to which I put in white wine and my fresh chicken broth. Let it simmer and just develop in texture, sweetness and flavour.
Season the fish 5 minutes before cooking - as I said, everything done to order. Hot pan, olive oil, skin side down. It cooks fast, so you have to be ready. Flip over, about 30 seconds on the meat, then straight into the oven to roast. I had to play around with the portions a bit. 6 portions would have been perfect for a 2 lbs fish, so for 7 ppl, I had to hold onto the ends.
Timing is everything. The fish doesn't need to rest out of the oven, so you have to time it to finish cooking alongside your beets. Lay the beet cubes flat on the plate, north of centre. Slice the fish, lay on top, present the beet rectangle.
The beets had this incredible sweetness. Just amazing - I virtually used no seasoning, relying on the chicken stock and the beet's natural flavour to take care of it. Extraordinary. Fish cooked perfectly, savoury and moist.