Crispy Pan Seared White Fish with Walnut Romesco and Pea Shoot Salad

A plate with pan seared bass fish over a bright red walnut romesco sauce and topped with a bright green pea shoot salad
Recipe: Crispy Pan Seared White Fish with Walnut Romesco and Pea Shoot Salad

Romesco is a classic sauce from Catalonia, Spain that was originally made to eat with fish. Typically, the sauce consists of roasted tomatoes, garlic, almonds, oil, and some type of pepper. For our version, a handful of toasted walnuts provides a subtle sweetness, richness, and slightly thickens the sauce to a creamy consistency. In place of roasted tomatoes, we use jarred roasted red peppers, hitting all of those sweet, umami, savory notes. A splash of sherry vinegar brightens the sauce, providing enough acidity to complement a piece of fish or meat. Here we serve our romesco with a simple, crispy-skinned piece of fish and a bright, herbaceous salad on top. Any firm-fleshed, white fish works well here: We recommend striped bass, black bass, halibut, and snapper. If you prefer a sauce with a little less acidic punch, you may substitute red wine vinegar for sherry vinegar in Step 2. And if you’re having trouble finding pea shoots, arugula, watercress, or any other light leafy green will do just fine.   

Crispy Pan Seared White Fish with Walnut Romesco and Pea Shoot Salad

A plate with pan seared bass fish over a bright red walnut romesco sauce and topped with a bright green pea shoot salad
Serves 4
Ingredients:
  • Fish
  • 4 (4- to 6-ounce) skin-on white fish fillets, 1 to 1½ inches thick
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • Sauce

  • 1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained (8.5 oz dry weight)
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) toasted walnuts

  • Salad

  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups pea shoots, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) toasted walnuts, chopped coarsely
  • 2 tablespoons mint leaves, torn into 1/2-inch pieces
Preparation:
  1. For the Fish: Using sharp knife score skin lengthwise at ½-inch intervals, making ¼-inch-deep cuts, stopping ½ inch from top and bottom of filet. Season both sides of filets evenly with 2 teaspoons salt and place skin side up on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes or up to 1½ hours.
  2. For the Sauce: Meanwhile, place peppers, vinegar, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, smoked paprika, and cayenne in blender and blend on high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. With blender running, slowly drizzle in oil until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add walnuts and blend on high speed until smooth, about 1 minute longer. (For smoother sauce, strain sauce through fine-mesh strainer, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids.) Transfer sauce to bowl and season with salt to taste.  
  3. For the Salad: Whisk shallot, oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in large bowl until combined. Add pea shoots, walnuts, and mint and toss gently to combine. Season with salt to taste and set aside until ready to use.
  4. Remove fish from refrigerator and pat skin dry with paper towels. Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Carefully slide fillets, skin side down, into skillet. Immediately reduce heat to medium-low; using fish spatula, firmly press fillets down for 20 to 30 seconds to create good contact between skin and skillet. Continue to cook, tilting skillet occasionally to distribute oil, until skin is well browned and flesh is opaque except for top ¼ inch, 8 to 12 minutes. (If at any time during searing, oil starts to smoke or sides of fish start to brown, reduce heat so that oil is sizzling but not smoking.)
  5. Turn off heat. Flip fish and continue cooking until fish registers 125 degrees F/52 degrees C, about 30 seconds longer. Immediately transfer fish to large platter or wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Spoon dollops of sauce onto individual plates. Place fillets, skin side up, on top of sauce and serve with salad.

Nutrition facts:

1 serving 654 calories 29 grams of protein 12 grams of carbohydrates 5 grams of fiber 5 grams of sugar 946 milligrams of sodium 748 milligrams of potassium 59 grams of fat ( 31 grams of saturated fat 18 grams of monounsaturated fat 7 grams of polyunsaturated fat )

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