Poached Chilean Sea Bass in a Miso, Coconut and Lemongrass Broth

It was 5:45 pm, 15 minutes before the market closed for the day. I had hustled straight there after work in order to purchase dinner for that evening. If I failed in my mission, I would be forced to eat toast over the sink – again.

Earlier, I had been craving something light, fresh and thai-inspired. I was thinking ginger, chilies, and fish – but I didn’t know exactly which direction I would take.

At the fish market, the staff behind the counter paced impatiently, hovering nearby as I evaluated the options in front of me. I could see their eyes darting toward the clock, then back at me, then to their remaining closing tasks. That’s when I saw it – Wild Chilean Sea Bass.

I had never eaten, let alone cooked this type of fish before but had seen it on many a restaurant menu and heard it talked about on many an episode of Top Chef. Probably by a Voltaggio or two.

I pointed confidently at a large cut of a filet and announced that I would like that one, please. Immediately, the staff member removed it from the case to be weighed. The monitor on the scale read $56.79.

“Oh!” I exclaimed, “uh…maybe I’ll get a…smaller piece, actually.”

After the filet was appropriately cut, the price had come down slightly. The monitor now blinked $27.99 at me in green numbers. I gulped, and said “I’ll take it.”

After a quick run through the vegetable stand and a stop at the soy vendor, I headed home, thirty dollar piece of fish nestled up against ginger, miso, lemongrass, thai basil, lime leaf and cilantro in my little bag.

A funny aside about lime leaf: at the market where I buy exotic herbs such as lime leaf, they sell fresh bay leaf right next to the lime leaf. In a hurry one time while shopping for ingredients for fancy tomato soup, I grabbed a bag of lime leaf thinking it bay leaf. When the soup was done and we tucked into it, it tasted nothing like tomato soup – and more like thin masala sauce. I couldn’t figure it out! Dun dun dun… It was still pretty good though.

I always feel a little nervous when I’m cooking a really nice piece of fish – especially when it’s expensive. I fret constantly about over-cooking it, so I almost always end up undercooking it.

This time, however, I must brag that it was perfectly cooked. I didn’t use a recipe, I just winged it. First, I made a miso broth and added some coconut milk, just enough to keep a brothy consistency. Next into the pot went minced garlic, lemongrass, ginger and fish sauce. A dash of dried red chillies, and it came to a boil.

I let that mixture simmer while I made my side-dish: a simple mango salad.

After the liquid had reduced a bit and the flavours developed, I cut my filet into two smaller pieces and placed them right in the pot and poached them in the broth. Nervously, I poked them every few minutes, checking for doneness. It only took about 11 minutes before it was ready.

Served alongside the mango salad, the sea bass was just what I had been craving earlier – fresh, light, and flavourful. Lucky for me, I had a dinner companion in the form of a skype date with my lover, so far away in Vancouver.

Here’s the recipes! Chilean Sea Bass & Simple Mango Salad

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Categories: Food

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