Black Bass with Piperade and Polenta

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 5 min
  • Active: 55 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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Ingredients

Olive oil or clarified butter, for sauteing

Four 6-ounce black bass fillets, skin on

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Soft Parmesan Polenta, recipe follows

Yellow and Red Pepper Piperade, recipe follows

Extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing

Soft Parmesan Polenta:

2 cups milk

1 bay leaf

Kosher salt

1 cup quick-cooking polenta

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1/4 cup mascarpone

Yellow and Red Pepper Piperade:

Olive oil, for sauteing and drizzling

2 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped

1 Spanish onion, diced

2 plum tomatoes, finely diced

1 red bell pepper, finely diced

1 yellow bell pepper, finely diced

Kosher salt

1/2 cup crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano

1 teaspoon red chile flakes

1 teaspoon pimenton (smoked paprika)

1 to 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

1/3 cup Marcona almonds, toasted and finely chopped

Chopped chives, for serving

Directions

  1. Coat a large saute pan with olive oil and bring to a high heat. Coat the bottom of another smaller saute pan with olive oil.
  2. Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper on both sides. When the large saute pan is screaming hot but not quite smoking, lay the fish fillets in the pan skin-side down. Place the small saute pan directly on top of the fillets; this applies gentle pressure to the fish and forces the skin to have contact with the pan and will create crispy skin. Cook the fish for 2 to 3 minutes, and then remove the top pan. Shake the pan a little to unstick the fish. Use a fish spatula to flip the fillets, and cook until the flesh is opaque.
  3. Place a dollop of the Soft Parmesan Polenta on the bottom of each plate, top with some Yellow and Red Pepper Piperade and place a piece of fish on top. Finish with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Soft Parmesan Polenta:

  1. In a medium-size saucepan, bring the milk, 2 cups water and bay leaf to a boil. Season generously with salt, almost to the point of over seasoning. How do you know that you are there? TASTE IT! When it has reached a boil, slowly whisk in the polenta in small sprinkles. Once all of the polenta has been incorporated, reduce the heat to medium and immediately switch over to stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook the polenta until it begins to pull away from the pan, adding water to loosen it up if it becomes too thick.
  2. When the polenta is thoroughly cooked, it should look creamy and not feel gritty on your tongue. Remove it from the heat and stir in the Parmesan and mascarpone.

Yellow and Red Pepper Piperade:

  1. In a large saute pan, add enough olive oil to coat the bottom and place over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic. Add the onions and continue to saute until slightly caramelized, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the plum tomatoes and diced peppers, season with salt and cook until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, chile flakes and pimenton and cook until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Add the sherry vinegar and cook for an additional minute. Taste and season.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped almonds and chives. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.
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