“I liked her unfamiliar words. She writes of ‘skirling’ a nut of butter in a skillet. It is just right for that steady turning of a pan on its axes as butter melts over heat.”

-Laura Freeman, The Reading Cure: How Books Restored My Appetite

 

Serve this with eleventh commandment mashed potato, into which you may stir a little apple sauce.

Or, alternatively, as it’s quite rich, you could serve with a fennel salad, studded with black olives and feta.

Want something green? Try a spinach-based green salad with a cider vinegar dressing.

If you can’t get sea bass you could use halibut which is much sturdier and meatier.

Alternatively, you can use stone bass instead of sea bass. Stone bass is a farmed fish which grows bigger than a sea bass so that the fillets are thicker, juicier and more luxurious. You can get stone bass from The Fish Society.

 

 

Recipe for sea bass with cider and bacon

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 x rashers smoked streaky bacon
  • 4 x sea bass steaks, each about 150g/6 oz
  • 50g/2 oz butter
  • 300 ml/1¼ cups dry cider (or… if you don’t have the time to make the reduction you can deglaze the pan with a couple of tablespoons of cider vinegar)
  • 60 ml/4 tbsps double cream
  • 1 tsp smoked salt
  • Indonesian long black pepper… or Urfa pepper flakes

Method

  1. Fry the bacon until crispy with a touch of olive oil. Remove to a chopping board and cut into small pieces.
  2. Pour the cider into a small saucepan, simmer and reduce over about a quarter of an hour (or alternatively, if you are short of time, deglaze the frying pan – later – after you’ve cooked the fish – with a couple of tablespoons of cider vinegar.
  3. Season the fish with ½ tsp salt and some Indonesian long black pepper (or Urfa pepper flakes – fabulous) and fry in the same pan you used for the bacon, in butter which you’ve ‘skirled’ (see quote at the top of this post), and got frothing. Fry three or four minutes on both sides depending on thickness (if you use halibut it may be a minute or two longer) – a toothpick ought to be able to slide through easily. If the pan is hot enough, the skin can be scraped off easily for those who don’t like it, or fried at a hotter temperature to make it crispy for those who do. You can make your mashed potato while you fry the fish if you are good at juggling.
  4. Take the fish fillets out now, and keep warm on plates. Deglaze the pan  with either your cider reduction, or with a splash of the cider vinegar. Get it syrupy, or the cream you are about to add will curdle. 
  5. Take the pan off the heat, and add the cream.
  6. Serve the sea bass fillets topped with the cream sauce poured over them, sprinkled with the bacon bits, and some freshly ground pepper, or Urfa pepper flakes. 

 

sea bass with cider cream sauce recipe