Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Chilean Sea Bass wrapped in a Cashew Nut Crust Crust

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A few days ago I reviewed a Freebie sent to me by the Certified Steak and Seafood Company.  They were nice enough to send me a set of beautiful Filet Mignon Steaks that I Pan Seared and LOVED!  Well, in the same bundle they also sent me a couple of wonderful Chilean Sea Bass steaks to review.  Like the steaks, the Wild Caught Sea Bass was free.  What follows is my opinion, mine and mine alone.

First, a word about sea bass... Sea bass is my wife's very favorite piece of fish.  It is also among the most endangered species of popular fish.  Back in the 90's, every restaurant was offering this and the fish were nearly harvested out of existence.  Many terrible fishing practices led to the depletion of the oceans, but among the worst were unlicensed net fishers and several mile long hook lines that not only caught the bass, but anything else that swam by.

Rightfully so, Sea Bass has all but disappeared from restaurant menus.  Activists and government agencies agree that careful monitoring of fishing techniques, quantities and licensing is the only way to recover the population.

When I saw the Bass, I was concerned.  I am an old Hippie that would never consider buying Sea Bass without safeguards that make the fish too expensive to be offered by most restaurants and very very few fishmongers.

Well, before agreeing to write a review, I did a little research on the Certified Steak and Seafood Company and their policies...
Chilean Sea Bass now comes to your table courtesy Certified Steak and Seafood. Harvested and processed under close inspection of the National Marine Fishery Service

Click the jpg of their logo above to read the details about the government monitoring agency that certifies the seafood sold by Certified Steak and Seafood Company does in fact meet the strict guidelines making sale  of the species proper, safe and sold with an eye on conservation and the eventual full recovery of the species. They are able to verify that their sea food was legally caught with management provisions.  It is estimated that only about 15-20% of the 10,000 tons of sea bass sold worldwide meets these standards.

All of that is a long winded explanation that even an old hippie can buy wild caught sea bass from Certified Steak and Seafood Company and not feel guilty!

And that means an old hippie like me can make my wife happy!

The Wild Caught Sea Bass steaks were BEAUTIFUL!  Thick (about 1-1/2 inches thick), pure white and obviously shipped fresh frozen.  The packaging is perfect for shipping, individually sealed so no air circulation can cause freezer burn.  The boxes are insulated and a big hunk of dry ice is included to keep the products solidly frozen.  Despite the cross country journey to land locked Kansas, the steaks arrived as solidly frozen as the minute they were packaged and shipped.  I could have confidently kept these in my freezer for a very long time... no fear of refreezing.

 I chose to make a cashew encrusted Sea Bass steak.  This method allows the nuts to poach in butter, and allows the fish to sit above the HOT skillet, preventing any burning and a gentle poaching in butter...


Here's what I did...

Chilean Sea Bass wrapped in a Cashew Nut Crust

  • 2 Large Chilean Sea Bass filets
  • 1/2 Cup Cashews (unsalted), Crushed into pieces
  • 2 Pinches Salt and Pepper (one each side, top and bottom)
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 2 Medium Eggs, Whisked
  • 1/2 Stick Butter
  • 2 TBS Citrus Beurre Blanc Sauce for garnish
  • 4 Leaves Basil, sliced chiffonade style for garnish
  • 2 Pinches Orange zest for garnish
Cooking Directions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a heavy bottomed, oven safe skillet, melt butter over medium heat
  3. Set up 3 dredging stations, bowl of flour, eggs and the crushed cashew pieces.
  4. Dry the Sea Bass steaks with a paper towel.
  5. Dredge the fish in the flour, coating completely
  6. Dip the coated fish in the egg, coating completely
  7. Press the fish in the cashew pieces, coating all sides.
  8. move the encrusted fish to the frying skillet. Fry top and bottom for 2 minutes each until lightly golden brown and delicious...
  9. Move the skillet to the oven and bake at 400 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees.
  10. Move to a cutting board and allow the fish to rest. temperature will continue to rise while resting to about 140 degrees. Rest for at least 10 minutes for the temperature to even out throughout the entire piece of fish.
  11. Serve HOT with garnishes and ENJOY!
PERFECT... Butter soft and flakey.  With a beautiful piece of fish like this, please please please use an instant read remote temperature probe.  The butter soft flakiness is only achieved with careful temperature monitoring.  Overcook the fish and any fish will become chewy and unpleasant.  Treat quality ingredients with the respect they deserve!

The fish had a wonderful nutty accent taste thanks to the cashews.  Frying in butter helped the soft texture of the fish and certainly added that rich butter flavor.

I served this with a side of Sweet Potato ravioli.  I wanted to use a sauce for the pasta that would pair with the fish.  A Citrus Beurre Blanc Sauce is simply butter and wine heated and whisked to a creamy rich thickened sauce, with hints of citrus that accent without overpowering...

If you want to get beyond a tomato sauce for a pasta (and add a rich sauce that competes well with a fish dish), give this classic wonderful sauce a try...

Here's what I did...

Citrus Beurre Blanc Sauce

  • 1 Medium Shallot, finely minced
  • 1 TBS Butter for sauteing
  • 1/4 Cup White Wine
  • Juice and zest of 1 Orange
  • Juice and Zest of 1 Lime
  • 1 Stick Butter
Cooking Directions
  1. In a small heavy bottomed skillet, over medium heat, melt 1 TBS of Butter
  2. Add the minced shallot and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the wine and both juices and allow to simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce reduces to a syrup
  4. Add the butter. Once the butter has melted, remove from the heat and whisk fo several minutes until the sauce thickens and has completely emulsified.
  5. Serve warm over pasta or fish and ENJOY!.
So, bottom line this... Was this a restaurant quality piece of fish worth the cost once I was finished... YES. the combination of proper technique, temperature control and perfect Sea Bass to start made this about as good as it gets for me. As I said, this was a freebie. But here's the actual prices...

6 (8 ounce) Sea Bass Fillets  each 3rd party certified sells for $94... Below the cost of buying local (and locally I can not verify that they are legally caught).  I did a little checking and was not able to fins any CERTIFIED Legally Caught Sea Bass.  What was available cost $25 a pound and was available in only 4 ounce filets (a sure sign that this was in fact NOT Sea bass, but was probably a close substitute... but that's a long discussion for a different post... I digress)...

Certified Steak and Seafood Company uses the catch phrase, "Restaurant Quality, Internet prices" Indeed, on that count the certainly deliver on their promises. Pricing, packaging, quality and of course the finished product all lived up to the high expectations I had.

One more bottom line question..."Would I buy with my own money"?...

Again, you bet I would. No, this price point is much too high for a standard old Sunday afternoon session.  And despite the 3rd party certification I simply am not ready to make Sea Bass anything more than a special occasion dish,. BUT, any special occasion (like my son coming home from a visit from the Army next month)... Absolutely I would order these myself. There is just nothing like Sea Bass prepare properly and Certified Steak and Seafood Company helped provide that and more.


FREE $25 Limited Time OFFER

Certified Steak and Seafood Company wants you to give them a try. So much so that they are willing to put their money where your mouth is ... Well, their sea food where your mouth is. 100% money back guaranteed, lots of options (They sell beef as well), all top restaurant quality (Anyone having something special for New years???). Follow the blue letter link, look over their site, find something you might like to try, mention this post (use code FBR125D) at check out and you get $25 off the order.

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