Renowned Portuguese Chef Miguel Castro e Silva shares with The Kitchen his recipe for sea bass with orange and fennel, a delicate, sweet and fresh dish.
The unique combination of ingredients is part of Castro e Silva's motto to connect his cultural heritage with his cuisine. In Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, a historical province of Portugal located in the northeastern corner of the country, oranges were reserved dipped in olive oil and in clay containers and fennel grows spontaneously.
“Then, of course, no one doubts the nobility of the sea bass, the most reputable being the one caught at sea (since according to experts, it is less fatty and firmer). Yet, sustainability is an important concept for me, and sea bass raised in aquaculture, especially in the Iberian Peninsula, and notably in the Algarve and Aveiro, is also a very good option.”
Sea bass with Orange and Fennel
Serves: 4 people
Cooking time: 1.5 hours
- 100 ml of orange juice
- 100 ml poultry stock
- 50 g fennel, the bulb, (and some of the branches, for decoration) cut into strips
- 3 g cornstarch flour
- 15 ml olive oil
- 4 black olives
- 1 tomato, ripe
- Preheat the oven at 80 ºC.
- Cut the tomato into quarters, remove the centre and the skin. Now bake them for one hour.
- Meanwhile, mix the poultry stock with the orange juice and the fennel, and let it reduce to 150 ml.
- Strain the stock through a sieve and then mix with the cornstarch flour. This will give it texture, it will become a sauce.
- Finally, add the olive oil to the mixture, progressively, whisking well, until fully incorporated.
- Now brown the sea bass fillets in a non-stick frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil, first on the flesh side, then on the skin side. Finish cooking in the oven at 180 ºC over a piece of parchment paper, about 5 minutes.
- Now serve. Add the diced tomatoes and sliced olives to your plate. Now add some fennel slices, place the sea bass fillet, cover with the sauce and finish with a bit more fennel. You can accompany the dish with boiled potatoes and vegetables.
Pair it with: A white wine. A Viosinho (a highly acidic grape that grows largely in northern Portugal) from Quinta de Ventozelo.
About the chef:
Miguel Castro e Silva runs the kitchen at both Casario, a Porto-based restaurant exploring Portuguese gastronomy and Port and Douro wine; and at Quinta de Ventozelo, a beautiful farm up the Douro River which focuses on the regional gastronomy of the Douro and Trás-os-Montes. Quinta de Ventozelo was recently lauded as one of the three best hotels in the world for gastronomic getaways by the National Geographic Traveller. Castro e Silva is also the Executive chef at Restaurante Decastro Gaia, located in Vila Nova de Gaia.
He recently published a book called Na Cozinha de Miguel Castro e Silva which takes a new look at 48 fundamental ingredients in Portuguese cuisine. This recipe is one of the featured ones in the book.
The sea bass is an example of versatility according to Castro e Silva, an asset for those who like to play in the kitchen.