The first time I had Chilean Sea Bass was in a small restaurant, Red Fox Tavern in Middleburg, VA. This restaurant / Inn resides off a main street two street lights long. It is an “old money” town where people love their horses as much as their children, there are big homes, a tiny post office and lots of stories.
The tavern has a rich history both political and scandalous. Presidents have dined and slept there. Ghosts still rattle away in the narrow dwarf-ceiling hallways. I went there because Middleburg was the half-way point between an area I lived in which I didn’t care much for, and what I considered “civilization”: Washington, DC.
On this particular day, my friend ordered me a soft white fish. I remember it melting in my mouth and it not being satisfactorily large enough. I wanted more. Fast forward to now, years later, and I find myself thinking of that old historic tavern with the charming lights and fox on the sign. The creaky hardwood floors and framed memorabilia… And I realize how much food really does play into our fondest memories.
You Will Need:
* Chilean Sea Bass
* Brussel Sprouts (fresh or frozen)
* Your Chosen Method For Steaming
* Lettuce (optional)
* Microplane (optional)
* Grated Cheese
* Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
* Toasted Sesame Seed Oil
* Olive Oil
* Salt and Pepper
Get a small dish and your microplane (if you wish to collect the lemon zest) and set aside as much of the zest as you can.
Then wash your vegetables. Find a colander (or wash each separately) and make sure your veg is throughly rinsed. Set aside to dry.
In a pan, melt your butter on medium low, squeezing the lemon juice into the pan. I used one lemon for two pieces of CSB. Stir and add your garlic (I used minced garlic). Use as much garlic as you like.
Next, take some sprigs of the Italian Flat Leaf Parsley and rinse it.
Chop as small as you can.
Place it into the pan (please see the amount I cut, of course you can add more or less) and add about a tablespoon and a half of olive oil. Stir and leave on medium low.
Your sprouts should be drier by now, get your steamer out (I’m using my Lekue steamer) and chop the rough hard ends off each sprout and the slice in half once for the smaller ones and again for the larger. Place them in your steamer, drizzle with the toasted sesame seed oil, add salt and pepper. No need at this time to stir.
Take your fish and place them with the sprouts, also drizzling with the oil and adding salt and pepper.
Place all either in the microwave (high: 12 mins) or cook your usual steaming method.
While that cooks, see below how I store my fresh parsley. When these are brought home, just place them in a glass with some water and then safely in your fridge. Some people also keep them covered with the same green bag to create a kind of tent.
Stir your butter sauce periodically.
When the steaming has completed, take the fish and set it aside from the veg. You will be continuing the fish in the garlic lemon butter sauce.
In a bowl, place the sprouts aside. Drizzle them with olive oil and then shake some basil and grated cheese over top. Stir and taste. See if you’d like more of anything, I added more salt and pepper. They’re fine left out for now, you will reheat them in the microwave.
Place the fish in the pan with the sauce.
Raise the temp to medium and let it all sit and simmer. The smell is incredible… You will notice the butter start to get darker. You will be, every two minutes, moving the fish. Flipping the pieces gently, to endure each side gets its time in the sauce.
Once each side has its turn, lower the heat to medium low and cover. Wait another five minutes and then turn off the heat and remove it from the stove.
If you decide the butter hasn’t browned enough, continue to cook covered on medium low / low.
Place your sprouts in the microwave for two-three minutes during the lime your fish sits with the lid on, and then place (if you choose to) some light leafy greens down, a piece of fish on top and the veg on the side.
Take the rest of that gorgeous brown butter sauce infused with lemon and garlic, and drizzle it over the fish and leaves.
Top your fish with the lemon zest.
I can tell you my memories of that tavern are strong. Where I remember my first time having Chilean Sea Bass and looking for it unsuccessfully at all the restaurants afterwards in my small Virginia town (until I moved to Florida). I can say that I’ve made brown butter sauce before. But I can’t say it’s ever been quite like this.
I don’t know if it’s specifically the lemon that makes me loves this so much, or if it’s the soft sprouts with the olive oil, basil and cheese that make you think of those yummy oils you sometimes get to dunk bread into at restaurants… I don’t know if I’ll know. Just like I won’t know who really haunts that restaurant in Middleburg. Or the one down the street that I used to sing at, with sounds of clanging in the kitchen from a (hopefully?) appreciative ghost.
It’s interesting that one of the first places to open my palate almost twenty years ago still creeps its way into some of the food I cook now. And I guess, if I had to haunt somewhere, there’s worse places than Middleburg.