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Sea Bass with Rhubarb Compote

MyCookbook Recipe Database
MyCookbook Member: MarthasArchive
Recipe Category: Seafood
Recipe Preparation Level: moderate
    Rhubarb is a tart and tasty fruit that many of us are accustomed to encountering only in baked goods such as pies. Especially if your garden produces an abundance of these hardy, deep-red stalks each year, you’ll be pleased with this recipe, for it will expand your notion of how rhubarb can be used. Terrance Brennan of the New York City restaurant Picholine creates a spiced rhubarb compote to complement pan-fried sea bass fillets and wilted dandelion greens, which are also at their mild, tender prime in spring.

    The beet juice in the recipe recreates the red coloring that rhubarb stalks lose when they are peeled, and it can be omitted if you wish. A pan is pressed on top of the sea-bass fillets while they are frying to keep the fillets flat, allowing the skin to crisp evenly. If sea bass is not available, you can substitute salmon fillets.

    Serves 6

    8 tablespoons unsalted butter
    3 cups rhubarb, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1/4 teaspoon allspice
    1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
    1 teaspoon orange zest
    1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon star anise
    1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped from pod
    1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
    1/4 cup beet juice, for color (optional)
    1/2 cup Sauternes wine
    6 six- to seven-ounce sea-bass fillets, skin on
    Coarse salt, to taste
    Freshly ground pepper, to taste
    1 cup Wondra (superfine) flour
    1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
    3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    2 cups dandelion greens, trimmed
    1/4 cup mint, julienned

    1. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add rhubarb and sugar, and sauté for about 1 minute. Stir in allspice, cardamom, orange zest, cinnamon, star anise, vanilla-bean seeds, and grated ginger. Add beet juice and Sauternes wine, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring constantly until rhubarb is very soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly. Transfer cooked mixture to bowl of a food processor. Pureé until smooth, and set aside.

    2. Using a chef’s knife, gently score the skin side of each fish on a diagonal. Season both sides of each fillet with salt and pepper. Dredge each fillet in flour to coat. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange 2 fillets skin-side-down in skillet, lay a sheet of foil directly over fillets, and cover with another skillet to weight fish. Cook until the skin is golden and crispy, about 3 minutes. Remove the top skillet and foil, flip the fillets, and cook, unweighted, for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, until the fish is cooked through. Repeat process with remaining oil and fillets.

    3. Meanwhile, prepare the greens. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until they are golden brown and give off a nutty aroma. Add balsamic vinegar, and remove from heat. Add trimmed dandelion greens, and cook, tossing with tongs, until just wilted. Set aside.

    4. Spoon 2 tablespoons of rhubarb mixture onto the center of each plate. Top rhubarb with dandelion greens and 1 fillet. Garnish with mint.

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