Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sustainable Seabass with Orange Ponzu Sauce

Plate of Bass, Sauce, and Side of Greens
White Seabass, Orange Ponzu, and Greens

Recipe adapted from If it Makes You Healthy by Sheryl Crow

I was surprised to find out that some species of seabass are now sustainably fished. The term seabass is commonly used to refer to several species besides true seabass, so sorting out sustainability information can be confusing.

Both US east coast black seabass (a true seabass) and US west coast white seabass (really a croaker) populations have largely recovered from overfishing, so are environmentally friendly choices now.

On the west coast, banning of shallow water gill netting of white seabass improved the survival rate of immature and spawning individuals, increasing the population to healthy levels within 15 years. We’re at the height of white seabass season, so it’s a good time for west coasters to try this succulent local fish.

Note that Chilean seabass (really a toothfish) has been fished almost to extinction in the Antarctic. It is illegal to catch, except by a small portion of the industry that uses sustainable fishing methods, according to the MSC. Illegal fishing and trading continue, and it can be impossible to distinguish a legal fish from an illegal one. Even the legal fish are caught on longlines, which are known killers of the endangered albatross as well as thousands of other seabirds. Best practice: Avoid eating Chilean seabass.

This is a recipe from If it makes you Healthy, a cookbook by Sheryl Crow and her chef Chuck White. It's about seasonal eating, rock n roll style (touring with personal chef in summer, homecooked meals in winter)—but I adapted it quite a bit. There was a white miso marinade that we didn’t like so I eliminated it. That makes the recipe quite a bit quicker to prepare. You could create a marinade for this…something teriyaki-ish with citrus? The original ponzu sauce called for 1 cup soy sauce, which is more traditional, but I wanted to feature the citrus flavors rather than the salty soy. For sugar, I recommend unrefined mascobado, fair-trade certified from the Philippines, if you can find it. It’s much like golden brown sugar, but with the minerals that nature intended. As always, adjust the ingredients to your taste.

Seabass with Orange Ponzu Sauce
serves 4 - 6

1  ½ lb. center-cut seabass
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tbsp. raw or brown sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking pan and lay fish in it.

Make sauce: Whisk together soy sauce, orange and lime juices, rice vinegar and sugar. Set aside.

Roast fish for 12 – 15 minutes, until moisture inside fish bubbles into pan and bass is cooked throughout. If it’s not quite done (depending on thickness), roast another 2 – 3 minutes.

Serve fish drizzled with sauce.

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