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Poached Sea Bass with Cilantro Lime Butter

Yield: 8 servings

  • 8 pieces of sea bass* filet, each portion 1/3 lb.
  • 6 cups fish stock
  • juice of 1/2 lime (zest before juicing, and reserve zest for butter)
  • [bouquet garni: 6 black peppercorns, 1/2 tsp. whole coriander seeds, 3 coriander stems, 1 bay leaf], tied in cheesecloth
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt

cilantro lime butter:

  • 1/2 shallot, finely minced
  • 1 green onion (scallion), finely minced, both white and green parts
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro, leaves and tender stems
  • grated zest of 1 lime
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 6 Tbs. butter (3 oz.), at room temperature

to finish the dish:

  • kernels from 2 ears fresh sweet corn
  • 1/2 cup shelled English peas
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • warm, crusty baguette for serving

Combine fish stock, bouquet garni in a wide non-reactive pot. Bring to a simmer and cook 10 minutes.

Combine butter ingredients and mix thoroughly with the soft butter. This can be done in the food processor or mortar and pestle, or just a bowl. Set aside at room temperature. Have ready 4 warmed, shallow soup bowls before beginning to cook fish.

Add fish pieces gently to simmering stock, cover the pot, and cook at the barest simmer for about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and let fish sit in the pot for 2-5 more minutes, depending on thickness (1 inch thick fish will take all 5 minutes usually, while thinner pieces will be done sooner). Check to see if fish ready, by sliding a thin knife into the center of one piece. If still too rare, cover pan for 2 more minutes, then check again.

Meanwhile, place corn, peas, butter, a little salt in a pot. Add 2 tablespoons water. Cover the pot, cook on high heat until the water boils (a few seconds) plus one minute.

When the fish is ready, serve in flat bowls and top with a generous dollop (about 1 tablespoon) of the butter. Spoon some of the broth over the top, distributing some vegetables into each bowl. Serve immediately, with warm crusty bread.

*Use any sea bass such as Corvina, which comes from S. American (both Atlantic & Pacific) or Blue Nose from NZ; also excellent with salmon, swordfish, halibut—any firm fish.