Crispy Black Cod with Uni {Sea Urchin} Risotto

Black Bass with Uni Risotto

Crispy Black Cod over Uni Risotto.

You need this in your life. You really, REALLY do.

And the truth of the matter is, we made this incredibly decadent dish earlier this year at a Family Dinner though I didn’t post it because I wasn’t a fan of the pictures. But I came across them again while I was digging through my external hard drive and found my mouth watering.

It was so damn good.

Uni (Sea Urchin)

Seeing how we try our darnedest to try and not make the same dish twice for Family Dinner, I knew it would be awhile before I had the chance to rephotograph it. So I apologize for the photo quality but trust me on this, you’ll love this dish.

It was a collaboration between my seestrah T and I. She wanted a luscious fish and although we would usually turn to sea bass, we opted for black cod since it’s much more affordable. Sea bass has a very high oil content which keeps it wonderfully moist and almost buttery once cooked. Black cod mirrors the rich and decadent textures of sea bass but there are a TON of bones in them. So make friends with your fish monger and let them do the work for you.

Black Bass with Uni Risotto

I was in charge of the starch component of the dish and thought risotto would be wonderful with the tender fish. To send things over the top, I chose to make uni risotto by using my base risotto recipe but stirred in lots of pureed uni towards the end. The briny, mildly sweet flavor it brought to the rice was such a wicked compliment to the cod.

Here in Southern California, shelled uni can be found in the sashimi sections of Japanese and other Asian grocery stores. And if you’re feeling really adventurous, you can buy them whole in their spiny shells and remove them at home. I, for one, am okay with not shanking myself and opt to get them prepackaged.

Black Bass with Uni Risotto

And since more uni is always better in my book, we had to top off the whole thing with 1-2 extra pieces. If you’re going to do it, do it right.

Right?

Right.

____________________________________________

Crispy Black Cod with Uni {Sea Urchin} Risotto
Serves 4

Ingredients:

12 ounces fresh uni (sea urchin )
4¼ cups seafood stock (ie. lobster, shrimp, etc.), divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 cup diced white onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
kosher salt
black pepper
4 pieces black cod, skin-on, de-boned (5-6 ounces each)
vegetable oil
chopped chives to garnish

Take all but 4-6 pieces of uni and put it in a blender with ¼ cup seafood stock. Pulse until it becomes smooth and set aside. Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender or hand-whisk the uni into the stock. The latter method will not have as smooth of a finish.

Heat the remaining seafood stock in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.

Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a pot (or large, deep set skillet) over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until softened and translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme leaves, rice and stir quickly until the rice is well coated and opaque—about 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the wine and cook until the liquid is nearly all evaporated.

Ladle in 1 cup of the hot stock into the rice. Simmer and slowly stir over medium-low heat until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add the remaining stock, 1 cup at a time. Continue to simmer and constantly stir, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of stock before adding more. Once done, the risotto should be slightly firm and creamy–approximately 25 minutes in total. Stir in the pureed uni, cheese and remaining butter. Check for seasonings and adjust with the kosher salt and pepper.

While the risotto cooks, heavily season both sides of the cod with black pepper and salt. Using a sharp knife, score the skin side of the fish. Choose a skillet that can handle a high level of heat (ie. cast iron, stainless steel, etc.) Heat the skillet over high heat so that it becomes screaming hot. Once it reaches the desired temperature, add a few tablespoons vegetable oil and swirl it around the skillet. Carefully place each fish, skin side down into the oil. Using a spatula, gently press down on the fish so that they don’t curl up on the sides. Cook the first side of the cod for about 3 minutes — depending on the thickness. Be careful not to flip the fish before the skin has crisped up and formed a crust. Once the first side has cooked, about 2/3 way through, flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove the fish from the skillet.

Spoon the risotto into the dishes. Place one piece of cod on top of the risotto and then place 1-2 pieces of uni atop the fish. Sprinkle each plate with chopped chives and serve immediately.


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