Cooking On A Budget: Potato Crusted Sea Bass

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Potato Crusted Sea Bass


It is so great to have a friend with a fishing boat and a husband who loves to fish. Of the fish he caught a week ago we froze a few fillets for a second dinner. This fish a week later was just as wonderful as when he caught it. I don't generally like freezing proteins and when I do I really try to use them in a week or two weeks tops.

Wondering how to do the fish I thought about how I had seen chefs prepare fish with a potato crust and thought I would at some point during the day look up a recipe. Lo and behold I turned on the Food Network in the afternoon and Anne Burrell was making Potato Crusted Halibut. What good fortune that was to see how she did the potato crusting.

I based my recipe loosely on hers and it turned out incredible!  I used regular russet potatoes in place of the Yukon gold and left out the thyme as I did not have any. (We plan on making this again as it was such an outstanding dish, that I purchased fresh thyme today at the store.)

I squeezed some lemon over the fish when finished as I did not have a whole lemon to zest in the oil. Despite changing this up I am so impressed and can only imagine that the full recipe is to the moon and back scrumptious.

Now you can do this with any hearty white fish - halibut, cod or sea bass which ever fish suits your budget at the time. Also, make sure your potato is super thin because it's crucial to get the fish wrapped properly.
My potatoes did turn brown, but no worry you are going to cook them up and it's not that they are bad. The next time I make this I will do the full amount of oil also so I can baste the fish for better browning. When I made this I was going strictly from memory after watching the show and well the memory is not what it used to be.

Here in all it's glory is her recipe:
  • 1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil (I used regular and it was fine.)
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 thyme bundle
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 lemon, zest removed from the lemon with a vegetable peeler in wide strips
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 3 Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed
  • 4 (6-ounce) sea bass fillets or halibut
  • Kosher salt
  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the olive oil, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, lemon zest, crushed red pepper flakes and fennel seeds. Bring to a boil then turn the heat off and let it sit for at least 1 hour. (*Big tip: This can be done ahead and used for LOTS of different things.)
Cook's Note: In this case it is important to work quickly and to slice the potatoes for 1 fillet at a time. We are NOT going to soak the potatoes in water, this will help them maintain their starch so they will stick to each other and to the fish, but could cause them to turn brown.
  1. Using a mandolin, slice 1 potato extremely thin, (paper thin), in elongated rounds. Lay a piece of parchment paper on a clean, dry work surface. Arrange 3 potato slices in an overlapping vertical line pressing them together as you put them on the parchment. Repeat this process until you have a 4 by 6-inch overlapping potato rectangle that replicates fish scales.
  2. Brush the potato "scales" with the infused oil and sprinkle with salt. Season the fish with salt. Lay the  fillet closer to 1 end of the potato rectangle than the other and then roll the fish up in the potato slices, using the parchment to help facilitate the rolling. Press to compact and really adhere the potatoes to the fish.Brush the outside of the potatoes with the infused oil to seal the potatoes and to prevent the potatoes from turning brown, this will also help make a nice tight "fish package". Reserve the fish in the refrigerator while preparing the remaining fillets. Refrigerate the fillets for at least 1 hour before cooking.
To cook the fish:
  1. Add the infused olive oil to a large nonstick saute pan until the bottom is generously covered and bring the pan to a medium-high heat.
  2. Season the fish with salt and add to the pan. Cook the fish on both sides for 3 to 4 minutes frequently spooning the excess oil over the fish to "baste" it.The potatoes should be crispy golden brown and very well flavored and the fish will be succulent inside its crispy "scales". Transfer to serving plates and serve.
The fact that you have a starch around a protein, all you need is a vegetable or salad to go along side for a wonderful meal. This just might make a seafood lover out of your kids!

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