Because we aren’t celebrating Valentine’s Day, but we aren’t NOT celebrating it either, right? Here’s our in-case-you-need-a-fancy-meal solution.
I’ve been making this sea bass for over a year now, and it is hands down one of my feels-like-a-restaurant meals that we make at home. Sea bass is definitely expensive so this is a real treat, but the veggies we have on the side are simple, affordable, and treated so well that they are just as much the star of the show as the fish. This is something I always say about restaurants – if the vegetables are good, everything else will be spectacular. We had a particularly expensive meal last night that featured steamed unsalted zucchini, and we were NOT impressed.
We need to be kind to our veggies because they’re pretty kind to us, you know? So, with that, I give you Seared Sea Bass + Meyer Lemon Crumbs with Curried Carrot Puree and Garlic Spinach.
This meal is super easy to make, but takes the teensiest bit of either 1. juggling to make everything go quickly or 2. time to make one piece of the dish at a time. I start by roasting the carrots, then make the breadcrumbs and prep the fish + spinach ingredients while the carrots are roasting. The pureed carrots can also be made in advance and reheated in the microwave – they store really well!
For the carrot puree, preheat the oven the 450F and cut the carrots into chunks. Arrange them on a small baking sheet with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast the carrots for 20 minutes or so until they’re dark.
When the carrots are roasted, transfer them to a high-speed blender with half and half, chicken stock, butter, curry powder, ground ginger, and a few pinches of salt.
Puree the carrots until they’re super smooth. Adjust the salt level and consistency to your preference; I start with 1/2 teaspoon salt and increase from there. If the carrot mixture is thick, add more stock a tablespoon at a time until the carrots are spreadable but not overly liquidy. Thin mashed potatoes is the consistency we’re going for.
While the carrots are roasting (or after you’ve finished making them), make the Meyer lemon bread crumbs aka YES WE CAN. Grab panko bread crumbs, butter, salt and pepper, a garlic clove, and a Meyer lemon. Zest the lemon for the bread crumbs then cut it into wedges for the fish.
Preheat a little skillet to medium-high heat, and add the butter and panko crumbs. Stir them together for about 3 minutes until the crumbs start to turn golden, then turn the heat OFF and add the rest of the ingredients: lemon zest, minced garlic, salt, pepper.
Stir the crumbs together in the hot-but-off skillet for just a minute, then transfer them to a small dish until you’re ready to serve.
When the carrots and breadcrumbs are done, I get to work on the fish! Preheat another skillet to medium-high with a drizzle of olive oil and a pat of butter. Sprinkle the fish all over with salt and pepper.
When the butter foams, add the sea bass and sear it for about 2 minutes on all sides (depending on how hot your skillet is), including the ends and sides, until lightly brown and crispy on the outside.
I like using a nonstick skillet for fish so that it glides in and out of the pan without a lot of fuss. Sea bass is expensive, man! Gotta protect it. When the sea bass is alllllmost done, preheat yet another skillet to medium-high heat for the spinach. Add some butter, the spinach, and a clove or two of minced garlic with a sprinkle of salt. Saute the spinach for one minute, maybe two, until it’s just wilted, then turn the heat off.
And, done! I know it sounds like a lot, but each of the components are really simple and the end result is SO good with the flavors and textures all together.
I seriously could eat these carrots plain slash for every single meal, and the crispy on the outside, buttery on the inside fish is just such a treat, then green garlicky stuff for our health and toasty bread crumbs bring the entire thing together.
Maybe for Valentine’s Day, maybe not, but definitely for sure for YOU. Make this soon, and make it often!
(also of course use another fish if you aren’t into spending a million dollars on sea bass, this is definitely something we don’t do often and any white fish you like will be delicious)