Vegetables, yarn, and yarns: all of my passions all in one place.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sweet Sea Bass and Vegetables en Papillote (and Chips of course)

Art decided to purchase some sea bass on sale cheap at Giant Eagle at exactly the same time that I grew curious about the sea bass en papillote recipe in the French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook. Of course, as is often the case, the recipe in the cookbook was not exactly what I wanted. (Who the hell keeps star anise in their larder anyway?) But the method for cooking the fish stuck with me. It seemed so... easy and healthy at the same time. And fairly cheap (star anise aside).

So I googled. And I googled. And finally I came across the perfect site for creating your own fish en papillote recipe. It's a blog called "Cooking with Alison," and Alison, whoever you may be, I salute you.

Now, I'm not sure if I've covered this particular fishy subject in my blog thus far, but if I haven't, I will say it now: this vegetarian sometimes eats sea food. And by sea food, I mean fish or, in restaurants, calamari. The reason for this: my vegetarianism is based strictly upon my need to eat what makes me feel healthy that I can afford. I cannot afford pasture-raised organic bison. I can afford eco-friendly fish. I try to keep up on the seafood watch list, and I can assure you that white seabass is currently a best choice in their book... or pocket guide, as the case may be.

Either way, fish oil is just plain good for you. And fish is fine in moderation, just like margaritas.

So on with my fish exploration: en papillote is a style of cooking in which you place the fish is parchment paper with a variety of vegetables and herbs and pop it in the oven. Inside the paper, the fish steams itself, along with the vegetables and in no time, you have a very healthy meal in it's own carrying case.

Of course, if you have no parchment paper, tin foil is also quite functional, though less pretty:

Because this is a fish dinner, I felt it needed some chips. I always bake, rather than fry my potatoes, so start the oven early, at 400. Cut up a few potatoes into rounds, place on a baking sheet, and salt. Put in the oven for about 10 minutes.

At the 10 minute mark, take the chips out and flip them, upping the oven to 425 for the fish. The fish will cook for 20 minutes, but the chips, when placed back in with the fish for the rest of their cooking time, should need only about another 10-15 minutes.

Sweet Sea Bass and Vegetables en Papillote
(serves 2)
What you need:
1 whole sea bass, minus head and tail and sliced into two equal pieces
1 med. zucchini, cut into matchsticks
1 red bell pepper, sliced and quartered
salt and pepper
Olive oil
2 T Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar
Pinch ginger, cinnamon, paprika, Italian seasoning, seafood seasoning

1. Preheat oven for 425 On two large squares of tinfoil, place the zucchini and pepper equally into the middle of each square. salt and pepper lightly.
2. Salt and pepper both sides of fish. Place on top of veggies.
3. Drizzle 1 T of the vinegar on each piece of fish. The sprinkle with each of the seasonings. Drizzle a little olive oil on top of each and the fold the tinfoil into packets.
4. Place the packets on a baking sheet and put in the oven for about 20 minutes. Fish should be cooked through before eating.

The resulting meal is sweet and savory. The chips, a needed compliment to fish, add a necessary light and crispy side. The fish, dusted with sweet spices and steamed with strawberry-flavored vinegar, is light and slightly tangy without any of that "fishy" taste that I really dislike. But the vegetables, by far, steal the show. Having been essentially marinated in the strawberry-cinnamon mix as the liquid pooled in the bottom of the tinfoil, they are sweet and flavorful with a hint of cinnamon and ginger, a fleck here and there of oregano, rosemary, and basil. Easily some of the best but lightly zucchini I have ever made. And plan to make again.

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