I thought I knew my white fish – cod, sole, halibut, tilapia, etc. That is until a couple of months ago when I met California White Sea Bass. Now nothing else seems as worthy. OK, except for the halibut I bought recently. That was amazing.
What makes California White Sea Bass so good? It's a satisfyingly thick, meaty fish with a pure, mild flavor. It's ideal for baking, pan searing, and grilling since it won't fall apart and can withstand all types of chunky salsas that are tossed on top of it.
Like I did with the halibut, I bought my California White Sea Bass from Tommy Gomes at Catalina Offshore Products in San Diego, purveyor of fine, fresh, locally caught seafood. If you don't live in San Diego or along the West Coast, consider shopping online for California White Sea Bass. And don't feel guilty about eating it: The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch lists it as a "best choice" fish.
There may be other perfectly tasty white fish out there I haven't met yet, but I don't care. My California White Sea Bass and me, we're getting along just fine.
Baked California White Sea Bass with Minted Zucchini, Corn, and Tomatoes
Makes 4 servings
1 pound California white sea bass (or other sea bass), cut into 4 equal pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
A generous sprinkling of salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 medium zucchini, sliced into half moons
1 large ear of sweet corn, kernels cut off
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
The zest and juice of 1 lemon
Several shakes of salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves, plus a few for garnish
Serve with lemon wedges and extra virgin olive oil.
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Rub 1/2 tablespoon olive oil on the inside of a baking dish. Sprinkle fish with salt and black pepper, and place in the dish; drizzle with remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Test for doneness with a fork; the meat should be opaque. If it's not, then cook for another 3 to 5 minutes and check again.
2. To cook the vegetables, warm olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and saute 8 to 10 minutes or until translucent and browned in spots. Add the zucchini and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until just softened and a few brown spots appear. Add the corn and cook 3 minutes until just softened. Add the tomatoes, lemon juice and zest, and salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the fresh mint. Divide the vegetables evenly among four plates, and top each with a sea bass filet. Lightly drizzle each filet with a little extra virgin olive oil, and garnish with fresh mint. Serve with lemon wedges.
Susan Russo is a free lance food writer in San Diego, California. She publishes stories, recipes, and photos on her cooking blog, <Food Blogga and is a regular contributor to NPR’s <Kitchen Window. She is also the author of Recipes Every Man Should Know and The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches.