One of my go-to dishes is a sea bass that’s quickly roasted with a melange of Asian aromatics; the original recipe was from Bon Appétit or Food & Wine or Gourmet, but I’ve tinkered with it over the years and made it my own.
Since SVKitchen has been heavy on the hoofed proteins of late, I thought I’d try adapting the dish to the sous vide technique. It was not an easy journey. After consulting Baldwin and Keller and Logsdon and all the usual suspects, I had a possible range of cooking temperatures from 122°F to 136°F, and suggested cooking times from 15 minutes to 1 hour! I ruined more than one lovely — and expensive — piece of fish trying to get the texture and doneness right. But today, on a gray and gloomy afternoon with halibut standing in for sea bass, I nailed it.
The keys were a huge reduction in the amount of liquid that was used in the conventional oven–cooked recipe, and precision both in the size of the fillet and in the cooking temperature and time. The result is a cinch to make, light yet highly flavorful, and a nice antidote to the extravagances of the holiday season.
(Did I mention Pam’s making Oysters in Champagne Sauce and a Chateaubriand with Béarnaise for all of us this weekend?)
Serves 2, doubles or triples easily
- At least 4 hours before preparing the fish, combine the lime juice, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a small bowl, then divide the mixture equally between two snack-size ziplock baggies, seal, and place in the freezer.
- Preheat the water bath to 122°F (50°C).
- Rinse the fish and gently pat dry with paper towels. Salt and pepper to taste. Place one fillet in a medium food bag, then add half each of the cilantro, green onion, ginger, and jalapeño, sprinkling them on top of the fillet. Set aside. Repeat with the remaining fillet. Remove the baggies with the lime-soy sauce-sesame oil mixture from the freezer and, working quickly, transfer the contents of one baggie to each of the food bags. Vacuum seal.
- Cook the fillets for 14 minutes if you like your fish a little translucent, as I do; cook them for 15 minutes if you prefer them completely opaque, as Pete does. That’s the nice thing about bagging and cooking each serving individually: everybody’s happy.
- Remove the bags from the water oven, open the bags, and carefully transfer the fillets to warm serving dishes. Top with the juices from the bags if desired. Serve immediately.