The bad news is, sea bass is an expensive treat, but the good news is there is very little you need to do.
Sea bass is the best. My dish here is Asian culinary minimalism at its best. The light cooking broth is incredibly flavorful and fragrant, and is mild enough not to overpower the delicate flavors of the sea bass. The whole dish is ready in minutes!
My sea bass dish is a hybrid between a dish and soup; it is in my cookbook The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen. In this version the dish is just as easy but it is meant as a main course, as I add a couple more ingredient to make it a meal in a bowl.
Dashi is desiccated fish (most often anchovy) powder, and in the kitchen it acts as an umami dream come true.
Although Kosher dashi is used in most Kosher sushi restaurants, finding it in retail stores is all but impossible (hopefully not for long; dear readers make a big fuss with your sushi merchants so they start carrying it soon: yes, it is as simple as that!). The great news is, anchovy paste is a fantastic close second. Oh I know, the very idea of anchovies make your skin crawl, but don’t even say the A word, just let the anchovy paste do its unseen magic. A headline I recently came across read, “Anchovy: A blessing if disguised” Anchovy paste is widely available and inexpensive, and comes in incredibly handy: Making Caesar dressing? A squeeze of anchovy paste. Making a dip or pizza? A squeeze of anchovy paste. Making a (meatless) broth? A few squeezes of anchovy paste. You see where I’m going with this!
I only ask that when you use anchovy paste, you add no salt whatsoever in the whole dish, as it is salty enough to season the whole dish.
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup sake
- 2 tablespoons dashi powder, or 3 tablespoons anchovy paste (if the finished dish needs more salt, add a little more dashi or anchovy paste)
- 1⁄4 cup toasted sesame oil
- Bottled hot sauce to taste
- 5-6 sprigs cilantro, tough stem removed, minced (don't like cilantro? Use a dozen basil leaves, thinly sliced)
- 1 1/2 pounds Chilean sea bass (or any other good thick white firm fish), cut into inch cubes
- 4 baby bokchoy, halved lengthwise
- 1/2 pound Shiitake mushrooms, caps only, sliced
- 2 corn cobs, sliced about 1 inch thick
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
In a wide pot, bring the water, sake, dashi or anchovy paste, oil and hot sauce to a boil. Add the cilantro, sea bass, bok choy, mushrooms and corn, and cook on a medium flame, covered for 5 minutes. Stir in the scallions. Turn off the heat and keep the pot tightly covered another 10 minutes. Serve the fish, vegetables and broth in soup bowls.