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cal white seabass, with love

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Oh California White Seabass, we love it so we even named our son Sebastian (aka Seabass) Cal after it.  As Californians, we are so lucky to have abundant stocks of it right here in our waters, especially after facing near extinction from overfishing in the 1960s – 1980s.  Now with stocks up it is back on the MBA ‘Best Choice’ of sustainability list.  And thank goodness, because it is SO GOOD!  Personally, it is our favorite sashimi fish!  Many people are unaware of this, but it is delicious raw, we love laying it in a bath of soy sauce and Sriracha (rooster sauce).  It also makes an excellent poké.  Aside from enjoying it raw, its firm flesh makes it one of the best grilling fish around.  Even kabobs are fantastic with the White Seabass.  Do not confuse it with Chilean Seabass which is absolutely not sustainable and an entirely different fish.  Usually when you find seabass in a restaurant it will be Chilean which we stay away from. Our local Black Cod is an excellent substitute as it shares  the same buttery texture & flavor so many people love in the Chilean Seabass but is super sustainable.

Seabass is very versatile to cook and does well with simply salt/pepper over the grill or under the broiler.  It is on the drier side so marinades are nice or even just a coating of olive oil before grilling.  I almost always cook it plainly then make some sort of sauce to put on it after, our kids love it that way.  We love it with our spin on a traditional tartar sauce that is so simple; we just mix nonfat plain greek yogurt with relish (or capers) and mustard.  Everyone loves it and it is much lighter than a traditional mayo-based tartar not to mention the plain yogurt gives it a nice tang.  We highly suggest this.  Below are a few other recipes that hopefully bring you inspiration should you need it… Enjoy!

Pan-roasted Sea Bass with Citrus-Heirloom Tomato Vinaigrette

1 cup seeded and chopped heirloom tomatoes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil (melted)
1 lb sea bass fillets, with skin
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil

Combine tomatoes and vinegar in a saucepan over medium heat; cook 3 about minutes. Stir in parsley and next 6 ingredients. Set aside. Score fish skin diagonally two or three times (to prevent curling), and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sear fillets, skin-side down, in 1 teaspoon oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat about 2 minutes. Press fillets flat with a metal spatula to prevent curling. Transfer skillet to oven, and bake at 450° for 5 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork.  Serve fillets skin-side up. Spoon sauce over fillets.
adapted by hr from Coastal Living Dec 2007

Spicy Soy-Ginger Grilled Striped Bass with Asparagus

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar (optional! I leave this out and the recipe is still fantastic.)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 bunch (about 1 lb.) asparagus, trimmed
1 lb seabass
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil (melted)

 In a blender, combine soy sauce, 1 tbsp. lemon juice, the sugar if you’re adding it, fresh and powdered ginger, and red pepper flakes and blend. With the machine running, slowly pour in oil and continue blending until emulsified, about 30 seconds. Spread asparagus on a rimmed pan, pour half the marinade over it, and toss to coat. Reserve remaining marinade. Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for direct high-heat grilling (450° to 550°; you can hold your hand 5 in. above cooking grate only 2 to 4 seconds). Season on both sides with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil and the remaining lemon juice. When grill is ready, lightly oil the cooking grate and put fish on grate skin side down. Grill 3 minutes, then turn and continue grilling until fish is no longer translucent inside (cut to test), 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a clean plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Grill asparagus spears, turning once or twice, until tender and browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. Use a spoon to drizzle with some of the reserved marinade.
adapted by hr from Sunset April 2009

Grilled or Broiled Seabass with Miso-Mustard Sauce
An easy dish that uses some traditional Japanese ingredients, including miso. Made from fermented soybeans, miso paste comes in various shades, with the darker ones being stronger in flavor. This recipe calls for white miso (also called shiro-miso), which is sweeter and more delicate.

2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon prepared Chinese-style hot mustard or Dijon mustard
1/3 cup white miso (fermented soybean paste)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)**
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 pound seabass fillet
8 green onions, trimmed
Toasted sesame seeds

Whisk water and mustard in small bowl until smooth. Combine miso, vinegar, mirin, and soy sauce in small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until smooth, about 3 minutes. Whisk in mustard mixture. Prepare barbecue or broiler. Brush fish and green onions with oil. Sprinkle both with salt and pepper. Grill fish until opaque in center, about 4 minutes per side. Grill onions until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer fish and onions to 2 plates. Spread sauce atop fish. Sprinkle sesame seeds over sauce and serve.
adapted by hr from Bon Appétit, July 2001
Pan Sautéed Mediterranean Seabass

1 pound seabass fillet
5 whole fresh vine ripe tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
4 ounces feta cheese
2 ounces dry white wine
1 lemon, juice of
1 tablespoon dried oregano
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
salt & pepper

Salt & Pepper the fish. Heat a sauté pan, add olive oil. Put fish in pan, presentation side down. Cook until golden on one side, then turn over. Add tomatoes, garlic, oregano, fresh basil, 2 oz.feta cheese, white wine and the juice of one lemon. Finish in 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. Take the fish out and finish with a splash of wine and the remaining feta cheese.
adapted by hr from  July, 2006

Our boy Josh – part of the H&H fishermen crew – landing your seabass.

grilling a whole salmon

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It’s the time of year when we are receiving order after order of whole salmon…  If you need some guidance on how to cook the thing for beautiful presentation, here ya go. If you don’t get it just right you could end up with a mess of mangled salmon all over your grill. Use care… read on…

Grilling a Whole Salmon

One (6 – 8 lb) whole   salmon, gutted and scaled
Sea salt
3 lemons, thinly sliced
1 small bunch of fresh dill and/or other herbs such as rosemary, thyme, or marjoram, chopped coarsely

Prepare the fish by making several deep diagonal incisions with a sharp knife, 1 to 2 in apart, in each side of the fish. Cut down almost to the spine. This helps the salmon cook more quickly and evenly.

Rub some sea salt into the skin. Sprinkle more sea salt and the chopped herbs inside the cavity of the fish, and stuff it with the slices of one lemon. Brush or spray the fish lightly with olive oil.

Here’s the key… SEASON YOUR GRATE. It takes starting with a clean grill, and oil, oil, and more oil. First, clean the grate until it’s as good as new. Use a towel or folded paper towel, dunk it in oil, and heavily coat your grate until shiny. Spray, towel, brush. Spray, towel, AND brush – whatever…just get it on there nice and thick. Now you’re ready to grill.

Lay the remaining lemon slices (or substitute any citrus) on the hot grill immediately before placing the fish on. The citrus slices also help prevent the fish from sticking to the grill. They will mostly burn away during the time the fish cooks, and impart a mild flavor to the fish.

Close the lid on the grill and let it cook for about 25 minutes. Check progress regularly and turn down the heat if the skin of the fish is getting charred. The flesh of the fish becomes a pale pink when cooked. Look at the flesh in the cuts to judge how well it is baked, and remove the fish from the grill before it is cooked all the way to the spine. The fish will continue to cook a while after being removed from the heat.

Lift the fish from the grill with a couple of spatulas, scooping underneath the lemon slices, and place on a platter. Garnish with some dill sprigs and lemon slices.

The portions of fish between the diagonal cuts should lift easily off the bone and be about one serving. When one side is served, you can usually lift off head and spine and serve the other half without having to turn the fish.

Check out this amazing article from the SF Gate… this is a MUST READ if you are about to attempt this whole fish grilling for the first time. You will also find a recipe for Green Herb Salsa, Green Curry Sauce, and a Seafood BBQ Sauce.

Big Fish
Yes, you can grill a whole salmon if you stick to this step-by-step  guide

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Good Luck!