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Sea Bass en Croute with Stuffed Zucchini Boat Recipe

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Sea bass is a delicious eating fish and unquestionably one of my favorites. While like most fish it is best cooked and served simply to be enjoyed at its best, the flavors are robust enough that it can be incorporated in many dishes which enhance and complement it in different ways. This simple en croute recipe - perhaps more commonly associated with salmon - is one such dish in which sea bass works extremely well.

Sea Bass en Croute with Stuffed Zucchini Boat
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Succulent sea bass en croute is erved with a stuffed zucchini boat

Ingredients (Serves 2)

Sea Bass Fillets
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Sea bass fillets

  • 4 medium chestnut mushrooms
  • ½ small white onion (¼ each for duxelles and zucchini stuffing)
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • ½ teaspoon dried tarragon
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Rapeseed (or olive) oil
  • 2 sea bass fillets
  • ½ pound puff pastry
  • Flour for rolling pastry
  • Beaten egg for glazing
  • 1 medium zucchini (courgette)
  • 12 cherry tomatoes (6 each for stuffing and garnishing)
  • ¼ green bell pepper
  • 6 canned anchovy fillets
  • Salad cress (or herb of choice) to garnish

Directions

Sauteing Mushrooms
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Sauteing mushroom combination to form duxelles

Wash and moderately finely chop the mushrooms, heads and stalks. Finely chop one onion quarter. Put a couple of tablespoons of rapeseed oil in to a pot and put the pot on to a medium heat. Add the mushrooms and onion, along with the tarragon and the peeled and grated garlic clove. Season further with salt and pepper. Saute fairly gently for around ten minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. Set aside to cool completely.

Skinned Sea Bass Fillet
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Skinned sea bass fillet

If you wish, you could ask that the sea bass fillets be skinned for you at the point of purchase but it is a job which is a lot easier than it looks or sounds. You will, however, need a proper fish filleting knife. Do not attempt to skin fish with a rigid, standard chef's knife.

Lay the first fillet skin side down on a chopping board with the tail (pointed end) nearest your weaker hand. Grip the edge of the tail tightly and make a small nick close to but facing away from your fingers, through to the skin. Twist the knife so that it's almost flat and move it backwards and forwards as you pull the tail away from it. The fillet should separate cleanly from the skin. Repeat with the second fillet.

Cutting Puff Pastry
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Puff pastry portion is cut off for forming decoration

Cut about an eighth of the puff pastry away and set aside for forming the decorative part of the en croute assembly. Roll out the rest of the pastry on a floured surface to a roughly triangular shape which will comfortably contain the two sea bass fillets on one half.

Duxelles on Puff Pastry
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Mushroom duxelles is spread on rolled pastry

Start by spreading out half the mushroom duxelles on one half of the pastry in roughly the size and shape of the largest sea bass fillet.

Sea Bass on Duxelles
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

First sea bass fillet is laid on duxelles

Lay the first sea bass fillet on top of the mushroom combination.

Duxelles on Sea Bass
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Second half of duxelles is spread on sea bass

Spread the remaining duxelles over the top of the sea bass fillet.

Second Sea Bass Fillet on Duxelles
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Second sea bass fillet completes filling assembly

Lay the second sea bass fillet on top of the assembly.

Crimped Pastry
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Pastry is folded over sea bass, trimmed and crimped

Fold the empty half of the pastry over the sea bass and mushrooms and trim away any excess, leaving a border of around an inch. Crimp this border to seal the package.

Decorative Fish
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Decorative fish for sea bass en croute is cut from remaining pastry

Roll out the last little piece of pastry to a thickness of around an eighth of an inch and cut from it a small fish shape with your knife.

Put your oven on to preheat to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6 and allow the pastry to sit and rest will it does so.

Oven Ready Sea Bass en Croute
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Pastry is glazed and ready for the oven

When your oven is heated, lightly oil a baking tray and lift the main pastry parcel on to it. Glaze well with beaten egg. Lay the fish decoration on top, press down very lightly and glaze the fish with more beaten egg. Put the tray in to the oven for half an hour or until the pastry is a deep golden color.

Scooped Out Zucchini Half
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Scooped out zucchini half

Cut the zucchini in half along its length and scoop out the pulp with a teaspoon. You want to leave a shell around half an inch thick. Note that the remaining stalk is left in place for presentation purposes but should not be eaten.

Salted Zucchini Boat
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Salted and upturned zucchini boat

Season the flesh sides with salt and invert for ten minutes on a wire rack over a tray to get rid of the excess water. This is especially important if you happen to be using heritage zucchini to get rid of the bitterness.

Canned Anchovies
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Canned anchovies

Canned anchovies can sometimes be available in a wide variety of price ranges. For a recipe such as this one, the least expensive variety works just as well as the more expensive options.

Zucchini Filling
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Zucchini filling ingredients are prepared

Cut six of the cherry tomatoes in half and carefully scoop out the pulp and seeds. Add them to a bowl along with the seeded and chopped bell pepper, the finely chopped remaining onion quarter and the chopped anchovies. Season with pepper only (the anchovies provide the salt) and drizzle with rapeseed oil. Stir to combine.

Stuffed Zucchini
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Stuffed zucchini boat

Divide the stuffing mix between the two scooped out zucchini halves.

Sea Bass en Croute
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Sea bass en croute removed from the oven

When the sea bass en croute comes out of the oven, lift it with a spatula to a plate to rest, Lift the stuffed zucchini halves on to the baking sheet and place them in to the oven for ten minutes.

Halved Sea Bass Parcel
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Sea bass parcel is halved fro service

Cut the sea bass parcel in half at an angle and lay half on each of two serving plates along with a zucchini boat and three in each instance of the halved remaining cherry tomatoes. Garnish with a little salad cress to serve.

Eating Sea Bass
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Enjoying sea bass en croute with stuffed zucchini boat

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