A great post from our Durham Area Manager – Cindy G!
Our family has really embraced The Produce Box’s mission of supporting the farmers and philosophy of using and eating what is available locally…well we still buy bananas at the store every week but that just is what it is 🙂 Inspired by buying local produce it only made sense to extend this mission to the meat and seafood we consume. After some research, we been purchasing our seafood through a few different local outlets who drive it in from the NC coast, choosing what we buy each time. This winter we decided to take the plunge and participate in community supported fishery with Walking Fish. They offer a few options: you can purchase a full (4 lbs) or a half-share (2 lbs) as well as your choice of filleted or “headed and gutted”. We love our seafood and were excited for some adventure so we opted for the full share, filleted. We enjoyed some old favorites like flounder, trigger fish and shrimp and had a blast preparing items for the first time including littleneck clams, oysters and sea bass. The striped bass, or rockfish, is still in the freezer but I have no doubt we’ll enjoy that as well! Can’t wait for the spring shares to begin!
My husband and I both really enjoy cooking so we often look forward to creating meals together Saturday nights when we are not in the usual weeknight crunch, which is exactly what decided to do this weekend. We received black sea bass and the striped bass last week so we knew we’d be pan frying one of them and went for the black sea bass. That part was settled, now what else? My TPB tomatillos have been staring me down for two weeks now, so it was pretty safe to say we be pulling together some kind of salsa verde which I LOVE so that was a no brainer. Now to put some fresh twists on some old stand bys…I decided to roast some corn and grape tomatoes with some scallions mixed in there lightly tossed in grapeseed oil, tossed with arugula after cooking. Fortunately, it was one of those meals that actually turned out/tasted exactly as we envisioned!!
Here’s the lowdown:
Tomatillo sauce/salsa verde:
1 quart tomatillos, husked and halved (from TPB)
1 jalepeno (TPB)
4-5 garlic cloves
1 onion, quartered
1/2 bunch (about 2 cups, loosely packed) cilantro (TPB)
juice of 1 lime
cooking oil of your choice- grapeseed, olive, whatever you like
salt and pepper
First things first, crank up your oven to 475 and get it good and hot. Now line a baking sheet with foil and toss your tomatillos, jalepeno, garlic and onion very lightly with some oil and lay them on the sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes, keeping a good eye on everything. You may want to intervene at about 10 minutes and give them a little shake up so everything roasts evenly. They should look like this when done.
Let it cool a bit, really just so its not steaming, and dump it all in your blender, including all those yummy juices, along with the cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper. Don’t skimp on the salt! Puree until mostly smooth.
Now, pour it in a sauce pan and let it simmer (very lightly!) while you prepare the rest of the dish. When you are close to serving it be sure to taste, season as needed and let it hang out a bit more. Don’t worry if it has a slight sourness, it will balance out with all the flavors. Husband was concerned about this but when we sat down to our plates, it was perfect.
Time to prep your fish! Ours needed to be trimmed just a tiny bit, then seasoned with salt and pepper. Now, get your pan HOT (and go ahead and preheat your oven now to 425)! We like using our big cast iron so turn the stove on now so it can heat up while you get your corn and tomatoes ready to roast.
Just look at that lusciousness!
Time to pull your ingredients together for your yummy salad:
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved (TPB)
2ish cups of fresh cut corn (TPB), I still have some in freezer from last summer so thats what I used. If you do use frozen, make sure you let it thaw some and dry it off.
1 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped
about 2-3 oz arugula
salt and pepper
Combine everything EXCEPT the cilantro and arugula and spread it on a lined baking sheet. Go easy on the oil and generous with the salt and pepper.
Roast this goodness for about 7-10 minutes when you start to see some color then give it a good shake and let it go for about another 7-10 minutes. Let it cool a few minutes until its cool enough to handle but still warm. Toss it all in a bowl with the cilantro and arugula. The arugula will get just a little wilty but still maintain its bite. At first I was thinking about some kind of vinaigrette but with the natural juices from the tomatoes, butteriness from the corn, oil, salt and pepper from roasting, it was just enough to pull it together while keep true to the original flavors.
As soon as you get the corn/tomatoes in for the second round get your fish going. The pan should be piping hot and ready to fry up those beautiful sea bass. Pour just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. We like a nice crispy skin so we start our fish skin side down for about 5-7 minutes, depending on the size/thickness, until you see the flesh turning opaque. Finish it off on the other side just for 2-3 minutes.
Now everything is ready to plate! I would probably start with double the salsa you see here…I like my sauce! We were very pleased with how all these flavors came together. The salsa lent itself not only to the fish as intended but also the corn salad and the corn salad-fish bites were incredible as well! Even the kids loved it 🙂 Yum!!!