Recipe: Oil-Poached Black Bass with Fresh Peas and Baby Tomatoes
Cooks from Italy and France have been poaching fish in olive oil for centuries to keep the fish moist but not watery.
For Bass and Poaching Oil:
4 black bass fillets (or red snapper or yellowtail), skin on, about 6 ounces each
3 cups grapeseed oil or canola oil
1½ cups extra-virgin olive oil
10 to 15 sprigs fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
For Peas and Tomatoes:
1 ½ pounds English peas, shelled
2 cups grape tomatoes
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 to 6 spring onions, trimmed and julienned
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons torn fresh tarragon
2 teaspoons torn fresh chervil
Maldon sea salt for garnish
1. For fish, rinse the bass, and pour the oils into a deep sauté pan big enough to hold all of the fish. Roll the thyme and bay in cheesecloth and wrap and tie with kitchen string. Add the sachet to the poaching oil and bring the mixture to 220 degrees over medium heat. Add the bass; the oil temperature will drop. Adjust the heat so that the oil temperature stays at 190 degrees. Poach the bass until just a little moist and translucent in the center, to a 130-degree internal temperature, about seven minutes. Carefully transfer the fish to paper towels to drain.
2. For the peas and tomatoes, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and fill a large bowl with ice water. Add the peas and blanch for 1½ minutes. Transfer to the ice water to stop the cooking. When cool, use your fingers to slip the peas from their skins. You should have about 1½ cups shelled peas.
3. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water and blanch for 10 seconds. Transfer to the ice water to stop the cooking. When cool, slip the tomatoes from their skins. Set aside. Heat ¼ cup of the oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add onions, and cook until soft but not browned, three to four minutes. Add the skinned tomatoes and warm through, one to two minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
4. In another pan, heat the remaining ¾ cup of oil and the lemon juice over medium heat. Add the peas and herbs and warm through, one to two minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the onions in the center of each plate. Place fish on top and tomatoes around the fish. Spoon peas over the top and garnish with sea salt and black pepper.
— Adapted by The Miami Herald from “Eating Italy” by Jeff Michaud with David Joachim (Running Press, $35)