Seabass is one of my favorite fish because of its white, succulent meat. It’s also very easy to cook, and you can make cold and hot dishes with it in just a few minutes. In Peru we Love (with a capital L) eating fish and seafood whenever, and however we can, and this recipe has been part of my diet for many years. To keep it fresh, I sometimes change the vegetables according to the season, but this is my favorite combination, and I bet you will like it too.
Before I tell you more about this recipe, a few words about the white fluffy rice that accompanies it. In Peru, rice is the side of choice for almost everything, from meats to beans, to quinoa, to potatoes. Some people take this tradition to the extreme, serving rice next to lasagna or other pasta dishes. As a rule, at least every protein has a side of rice –and/or potatoes– in Peruvian kitchens.
But if you’re thinking this is a bland, ordinary rice, it means you’ve never been to our country. This “basic” white rice is very flavorful, cooked with oil, garlic, and salt. The garlic we use is fresh from the market, peeled and chopped -or mashed- at the moment, and I can tell you, it imparts a wonderful flavor to any dish. Maybe this garlic is the reason we love rice so much. In addition to the tasty seasoning, feel free to add corn, chopped carrots or peas -all of them very typical too.
Going back to the fish, artichokes are a wonderful vegetable to cook it with. In Peru, fresh artichokes are common in every market and grocery store, and you can buy them whole or peeled (just the hearts). The hearts should be kept in a bowl of acidulated water (this means water with a little lemon juice) to keep them from darkening. Cook them in boiling, salted water, with a celery rib, a bay leaf, salt and pepper. Then slice them, and they are ready for this or any other dish. You can also add them to salads with a nice lemony dressing. If you have a steamer, this is a great opportunity to use it too.
Mushrooms and red bell peppers are 2 other tasty and colorful additions to this simple and healthy entree. Feel free to use whichever vegetable you have in the fridge, like asparagus, zucchini, corn, chayotes… it’s your choice. Use this basic recipe, and then make as many changes as you wish.
And for the fish: always remember to use the freshest in the market. Otherwise the result won´t be as spectacular as it could potentially be.
- For the Peruvian rice:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 cups white rice
- 3½ cups boiling water
- For the fish:
- 4 seabass fillets
- Salt and pepper
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon aji amarillo (optional)
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 lb mushrooms, cut in fourths
- 6 artichoke hearts, cooked and sliced
- ½ cup snow peas, finely sliced
- ½ cup white wine
- ⅓ cup butter
- 1 cup broccoli florets, cooked
- Heat the vegetable oil and the garlic in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir to avoid the garlic from burning or from scorching at the bottom of the pan.
- When the garlic is very fragrant, add the rice, salt, and water. Stir.
- Put the lid on, turn the heat to very low, and cook undisturbed for 25 minutes.
- In the meantime make the fish:
- Season the fillets with salt and pepper. Have the vegetables ready.
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and fry the fish, turning once. Cook for about 6 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fillets.
- Transfer to a plate and keep covered.
- In the same skillet cook the garlic until fragrant. Add aji amarillo, red bell pepper and the mushrooms, and sauté until tender.
- Finally add the artichoke hearts, and the snow peas. Add the wine, let it boil and reduce about ⅓. Finally add the butter, stirring until melted and well incorporated. Taste for seasoning.
- Serve the fish fillets in four plates. Cover with the vegetable sauce, and serve the rice on the side. Garnish with broccoli florets.