The holidays are officially o-v-e-r. I can’t believe it either. Every year there is all of this build-up and excitement surrounding winter and the holidays and ~sweater weather~, then New Year’s comes and goes and the majority of us are left standing, somewhat hungover and probably a little plumper, to face the beast that is January. I’ll bet January is the most depressing month of the year. You ate and drank too much in December, and you probably neglected a lot of day-to-day tasks in favor of fun. I get it. You need to do that every once in a while! It’s healthy. But that doesn’t make the cruel mistress that is January any easier. Now it’s time to face facts, start putting your laundry away again, unpack your suitcase, get back on that diet and head into the office. I suppose if we were all constantly drinking champagne and opening presents the allure would wear off eventually, but what I wouldn’t give for just one more cozy day on the couch! Oh well. Such is life. Join me in getting back to reality today, and remember, Saturday is only 5 days away!
Getting back into the swing of things is tough, especially when that means eating right. As previously stated, I’ve been enjoying my fair share of pizza and big bowls of noodles and sweet treats over the past two months, but now is the time to get back to it, and that means more veggies, less pasta and maybe hitting the gym a few times a week. This crispy sea bass with roasted vegetables is a great way to reset your eating habits and remind yourself that vitamins can be a good thing. I first learned of escalivada from Food52 (thanks, Marian!), and it’s been a staple in my apartment ever since. Simply roast eggplant, bell peppers and onions in a foil packet flooded with good olive oil and sea salt, then sprinkle with a little sherry vinegar, and maybe a touch more salt, and enjoy. The richness of these unassuming vegetables will blow you away, and while they are delicious all on their own, they pair beautifully with the crisp skinned sea bass, again, made with just a little salt, pepper, butter and lemon. The whole dish will awaken your palate and get you ready for the new year – this I can promise you.
Happy New Year from Kramer and Matt.
All you’ll need for dinner.
A few hours later, deliciousness appears.
Cook your fish while the escalivada cools.
Drizzle with a little more olive oil, sprinkle with a little more salt and splash with a bit of sherry vinegar.
Feel free to sprinkle the finished dish with a little parsley, if you have it, for color.
- 1 onion
- 1 eggplant
- 2-3 bell peppers (I used one red and one yellow)
- ½ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 2-3 teaspoons sherry vinegar
- sea salt, to taste
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 2-3 filets of sea bass, skin on
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- juice of ½ a lemon
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Tear off a large sheet of foil and place it on a baking sheet. Place your washed and dried vegetables on the foil, make bit of a packet so that the olive oil doesn't drip out, and rub the vegetables well with the olive oil, then sprinkle them with a few pinches of salt.
- Wrap the vegetables tightly in the foil, then place the packet on your baking sheet and roast for 1½ to 2 hours, until completely soft. If you don't have this much time, you can roast them unwrapped at 375 degrees F until they are completely soft, about 45 minutes to 1 hour, but they're much better the longer they roast.
- When ready, remove from the oven and let them cool. Peel the skins off of the eggplant and the peppers. Slice your vegetables into ½- to 1-inch long slices. Place the vegetables in a medium sized bowl, drizzle with a little more olive oil, splash with a few teaspoons of sherry (start with 2 teaspoons, taste, and add more to your liking) and sprinkle with some additional sea salt and/or pepper. Spoon onto plates and top with your cooked fish (recipe below), or enjoy on its own with big pieces of crusty bread and some soft cheese.
- In a large, heavy bottomed skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the fish with the salt, pepper and red pepper flakes on both sides, then add to the pan, skin side down. Note that as the cold fish hits the hot pan, the skin will shrink and this is what causes it to stick to your pan. Other than making sure your pan is well greased (with the butter), the best way to avoid skin stuck to the bottom of the pan is to hold the filet firmly in your hand, then gently drag the skin side down of the fish along your pan, then pull it away and drag it through the hot butter again two or three more times before finally placing it in the pan. This will heat the skin up a bit and allow it to shrink in your hand instead of in the pan. This method takes a little practice, but once you get the hang of it I promise it will tremendously improve your fish cooking game!
- Okay, so, using the described method above, place your filets, skin side down, in your hot pan with the melted butter. Cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or so, until the skin looks crispy (you may need to turn the heat up on your stove, depending on how hot it gets), then flip the fish, add another tablespoon of butter to the pan, as well as a few squeezes of lemon, and baste the fish as it cooks for another 5 minutes or so, until cooked through and opaque. Plate the fish on top of your prepared vegetables, sprinkle with a little sea salt and maybe give it another squeeze of lemon juice, and serve.