Seafood

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.

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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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Seafood

Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette

Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette

It’s been non-stop for me over the past few weeks and although I’ve had a fantastic time, this gal was starting to feel a bit run down.

I needed sleep.

I needed to give my party pants a break.

And I needed to get back in my own {tiny} kitchen.

Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette

And that’s where I was all weekend long.

Well, it was where I was after I went to the store to stock up on fresh produce because I think the only green thing I consumed over our 4-day Vegas trip was the lime in my grey goose tonic.

Gluttony is my name.

Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette

To fuel up for the weekend of cooking, I wanted something light but fulfilling–definitely some fish. Now my default is usually sushi or fish tacos when I get a hankering for fish but I then remembered a nearby fishmonger that I’ve been wanting to try – Catalina Offshore Products. They get their product every day directly off the boat from the fishermen — cannot get any fresher than that!

So I popped on in….drooled over all of their premium grade uni, oysters, sushi grade fish and chopped it up with some of their staff. AMAZING!!! For all of you folks in the San Diego area who may be wary about seafood—come here! They’ll put to rest any fears that you may have.

I somehow practiced some self restraint and only picked up a few fillets of their gorgeous black cod for lunch. Black cod is a tender fish that is a bit on the fattier side –think of sea bass– and incredibly delish.

I chose to pan sear the fillets because it’s quick and gives the fish a lovely crunchy crust without overcooking the meat. And the secret to pan searing fish? You’ve got to get the skillet/pan screaming hot before adding the oil and do not —let me repeat…DO NOT mess around with trying to flip the fish around a gazillion times. You’ve got to let it crisp up on the first side and then when it’s ready, meaning when you can slide a spatula underneath it without any resistance, then flip it!

Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette

Because I’m obsessed with anchovy paste lately, I decided to make a quick herby vinaigrette with anchovy paste for that much needed acidity to cut the natural fattiness of the fish. And for all of you anchovy haters — get over it! The paste adds a subtle, salty, sea flavor that I’m sure you wouldn’t guess it was anchovy if I hadn’t told you.

For reals…..

Since I was aiming for a lighter dish, I served my fish with these gorgeous heirloom tomatoes that I also tossed in some of the vinaigrette. They were beautiful and sweet. But if you’re looking for a little starch — a sunchoke puree or even garlic noodles would be the bomb-diggity.

Yeah….I just went there.

The finished dish is a show stopper if I dare say so myself. Crisp and tender fish with bright acidity from the vinaigrette. And guess what? If you get your act together, this beauty can be done in 20 minutes…..25 minutes if you want to take a leisurely approach.

Fantastic if you’re having folks over or just when you want to make yourself something delish. Because let’s face it, I don’t care if you’re just learning how to cook, an intermediate cook or chef extraordinaire —the food you create should make you want to smile and do a little happy dance.

And this little number made me do both….times 100.

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Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon anchovy paste
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon roughly chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper
2 black cod fillets, skin-on, de-boned (5-6 ounces each)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3-4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 cups heirloom cherry tomatoes, quartered

Combine the anchovy paste, shallots, garlic, herbs, lemon juice and vinegar in a blender and blend at medium speed for about 20 seconds. With the blender running on low, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the vinaigrette has become emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Score the skin side of each of the fish fillets and use paper towels to pat them dry. Season the fillets with kosher salt and pepper.

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 the oil and swirl it around the skillet. Carefully place each fillet, skin side down into the oil. Using a spatula, gently press down on the fillets so that they don’t curl up on the sides. Toss the thyme sprigs into the oil on the side of the fish –this will help flavor the oil.

Cook the first side of the fish for about 3 minutes — depending on the thickness of the fillets. 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 fillets from the skillet.

Toss the tomatoes in a few spoonfuls of vinaigrette. Plate 1/2 of the dressed tomatoes on each plate. Top each mound of tomatoes with a cod fillet. Drizzle the fish with additional vinaigrette. Serve immediately.