River Cottage's Steam-Braised Sea Bass with Thyme and Lemon


Steam-Braised Sea Bass [Photograph: Simon Wheeler]

Steamed fish doesn't exactly have the best reputation outside of health-centric restaurants, but in the hands of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Nick Fisher, gently cooked fillets are anything but dry and boring. Dubbed "steam-braising" in The River Cottage Fish Book, their method consists of using a rich (read: butter and olive oil) sauce full of herbs, wine, and garlic to gently steam (and braise, I suppose) small medallions of sea bass (or most other white, flaky fish). What emerges from the pan is tender with a subtle brininess imparted in the sauce.

Why I picked this recipe: The term "steam-braising" is a new one, but any recipe that promises tender fish and rich sauce with less effort than sauteing an onion sounds good to me.

What worked: With a careful eye on the fish medallions, I was able to turn out fragrant, moist morsels of fish in 10 minutes flat.

What didn't: Nothing--this was fabulous as written.

Suggested tweaks: This cooking method will work with all most white fish and flat fish, and the sauce is highly adaptable. Just keep in mind the basic principle of a thin layer of flavorful cooking liquid and adapt away. I'm thinking tomato broth, white wine, olive oil, and capers for my next batch.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The River Cottage Fish Book to give away.