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I’ve just had my kitchen redecorated. And that’s resulted in a clear-out of my recipe books – and rediscovery of some old favourites. Michel Guerard’s ‘Cuisine Gourmande’ was one of the first serious cookery books I bought for myself (along with a set of Elizabeth David books). I am ashamed to say I’ve hardly cooked anything from there…and even this version of Sauce Vierge (which I believe was his invention) is tailored to the herbs I could find today. And, I added lemon juice because many of the later iterations of his sauce include some kind of acid to counter the olive oil. But there are some great tips in there and I intend re-reading over the next month or so!
I was very pleased with this dish. The spicing for the seabass was inspired by watching Gordon Ramsey messing around on you tube with a bamix (my own favourite kitchen appliance) and the wilted spinach resulted from the lack of fennel when I went shopping this morning! But as is often the case, creativity born of necessity CAN be a success.
Ingredients (for 2)
For the seabass
2 seabass fillets
2 star anise
½ tsb white peppercorns
½ tsb fennel seeds
½ tsb coriander seeds
½ tsb salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp pernod or other pastis
For the sauce vierge
About a dessertspoon of flat leafed parsley
About a dessertspoon of basil
About a dessertspoon of coriander
8 coriander seeds
½ tsb white pepper corns
½ tsb salt
2 cloves of garlic
3 fl oz virgin olive oil
400g young spinach, washed and drained
1 tbsp olive oil
Chop all the herbs finely (NB you can substitute other soft herbs such as tarragon and chervil if you prefer)
Peel the garlic cloves
Skin and de-seed the tomatoes then dice
Blitz the spices and seasoning for the sauce vierge and set to one side. I DID use my bamix, but you could do this with a pestle and mortar or in a spice grinder.
Warm the olive oil in a bain marie, then add in the lemon juice, spices, garlic herbs and tomato and keep warm for 20-30 minutes to allow the flavours to develop.
Meanwhile, blitz the spices and seasoning for seabass and coat the fish on both side.
Remove the garlic cloves from the sauce vierge and check the seasoning, adjusting as necessary.
Warm the olive oil in the pan till it just starts to smoke, turn the heat to medium and pan fry the fish, skin side down till the skin is crispy. Then turn to finish cooking. This should take no more than 2-3 minutes in total.
In a separate frying pan, warm the remaining olive oil and wilt the spinach then add a knob of butter to finish.
Add the pernod to the seabass pan and allow the mixture to reduce down to around 1/3
Serve the seabass on a bed of wilted spinach with a dressing of sauce vierge