During our recent trip to Sardinia, we had a nice dinner at Albisbe4 in Alghero. As secondo piatto I had sea bass with sweet & sour savoy cabbage that I really enjoyed, and so I decided to recreate something similar at home. The combination of tender sea bass with crispy skin and crunchy sweet and sour cabbage works very well. The sea bass can be cooked either sous-vide or in the oven.
European sea bass, which I have seen in the USA under its French name loup de mer, is one of my favorite fishes. It is not as prone to drying out as sea bream (daurade in French). If European sea bass is not available in your area, feel free to substitute with another type of fish.
For 4 servings
4 sea bass fillets, with skin
450 grams (1 lb) cleaned savoy cabbage, in ribbons
1 clove garlic, minced
120 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
flour for dusting
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a casserole. Add the minced clove of garlic and stir briefly over medium heat.
Add the savoy cabbage. (Make sure to remove the tough central vein from the savoy cabbage before slicing into wide ribbons.)
Add the white wine.
Add the sugar.
Add the vinegar. Season with salt. Stir to mix.
Cover and braise the cabbage over medium heat…
…until it is tender but firm to the bite.
Uncover and increase the heat, and stir the cabbage until it starts to caramelize, then turn off the heat.
Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Season the sea bass fillets with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
If cooking sous-vide, brush lightly with olive oil (so the fish won’t get stuck to the plastic) and vacuum seal. Scald the vacuum sealed fish for 10-20 seconds in hot (over 80C/180F or boiling) water to sanitize the outside, then cool off immediately in cold water.
Then cook sous-vide for 15-30 minutes at 48C/118F.
After cooking sous-vide, pat the skin side dry with paper towels, and dust with flour. Score the skin diagonally, 2 or 3 times, to prevent the fish from curling up when you fry it on the skin.
Fry the sea bass fillets briefly in oil over very high heat, just until the skin is brown and crispy. Make sure not to burn the skin.
Click here for instructions how to cook the sea bass in the oven instead of using sous-vide.
Serve the fish on a bed of cabbage, skin side up, on preheated plates.
Since the inspiration for this dish came from Sardinia, it was appropriate to pair it with a Vermentino from that island. Scialà from the Surrau winery has a couple of grams of residual sugar, which is just enough to work with the sugar in the cabbage.
This dish from the neighboring isle of Corsica is an appropriate flashback for today’s recipe from Sardinia. Aubergines à la Bonifacienne is a tasty way to serve eggplant.