"Acqua Pazza" with Sea Bass and Clams

Total Time:
1 hr 16 min
Prep:
40 min
Inactive:
1 min
Cook:
35 min

Yield:
4 servings
Level:
Intermediate

Ingredients
  • 8 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 cups tomato concasse
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Generous pinch saffron threads
  • 1 pound Littleneck clams, rinsed several times and drained
  • 1 pound black mussels, debearded, rinsed several times and drained
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Italian eggplants, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 1 green zucchini, end trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow zucchini, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 10 basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 4 (6-ounce) sea bass fillets
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 tablespoons Basil Oil, recipe follows
  • Basil Oil:
  • 2 cups basil leaves, packed
  • 1 cup olive oil
Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a saute pan, over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cook the onions and garlic until soft and glossy, just beginning to brown. Add the tomatoes, cayenne and saffron, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the clams, mussels and white wine. Cover and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Uncover and remove from heat. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Reserve.

In another saute pan, over high heat, add 3 tablespoons olive oil. Saute eggplant slices until lightly browned. Add green and yellow zucchini. Cook another 1 minute, just until heated. Add 1 tablespoon of chiffonade of basil. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Reserve.

Season sea bass fillets with salt and pepper. In another saute pan, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Sear fillets, meat next to the bone side down first, until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer pan to oven and continue to cook another 4 minutes. Transfer to burner, turn fillets. Add butter and baste.

To serve: spoon 1/4 of the tomato sauce on plate. Place 1/4 of the Sauteed vegetable slices in the center and top with a piece of sea bass. Garnish with diced bell pepper and remaining chiffonade of basil. Drizzle Basil Oil around edge of tomato sauce.

Basil Oil:

In boiling salted water, blanch basil leaves for 2 seconds. Refresh in bowl of iced water and drain well. Place on baking tray lined with paper towel and let dry for 1 hour. Pour oil in a blender. Turn machine on to puree and slowly add the blanched basil. Continue to process until pureed and well blended. Transfer to a squirt bottle and allow to steep for a few hours. Use as needed.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups


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