This week is National Week of the Ocean so the focus is on seafood recipes using fresh, sustainable seafood. The difference between sustainable and non-sustainable seafood is the method in which the seafood is caught or raised. While it may seem as though the bounty of our oceans is limitless, the reality is that the global catch of wild fish leveled off 20 years ago and 70 percent of the world’s fisheries are now being harvested at capacity or are in decline. There are, however, fisheries that are currently being managed in ways that do not harm other marine life or the environment. Every time your purchase seafood, whether in a restaurant or to cook at home, you can make environmentally-friendly choices by using the helpful tools provided by the Monterey Bay Aquarium I’ve listed at the end of this article.
Striped sea bass is currently a Best Choice for sustainable seafood when either farmed or wild-caught in the U.S. Wild Atlantic striped sea bass are currently at record levels due to effective fishery management and strong conservation efforts. Avoid Chilean sea bass for now as it is being severely overfished and is currently being illegally caught in ways that harm other marine life and the environment and specifically threaten the already endangered albatross. Check out Race Street Fish Market for gorgeous striped sea bass fillets. Also, stroll through your local farmers markets for fresh, sustainable local fish. Serve this Seared Striped Sea Bass with Tomato Sage Pan Sauce with Parmesan Polenta with Peas for one fresh, easy meal that will not only help the environment but will be a sustainable dinner in your menu repertoire.
Quick Parmesan Polenta (serves 4 – 5)
1 & 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 & 1/2 cups milk
1 cup quick-cooking polenta
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup frozen petite peas (if you don’t like peas, just substitute frozen asparagus tips)
2 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
chopped fresh sage leaves for garnish
• Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
• Bring the broth and stock to a boil in a saucepan.
• Whisk in the polenta, whisking briskly for 2 -3 minutes until it thickens.
• Add salt, pepper, and peas and stir over heat for 1 minute.
• Remove from heat and stir in butter and Parmesan cheese.
• Transfer polenta to an oven-proof dish and place in warmed oven until ready to serve.
Seared Striped Sea Bass with Tomato Sage Sauce
Seared Striped Sea Bass with Tomato Sage Pan Sauce (serves 4)
4 skin-on striped sea bass fillets, each about 6 ounces
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 heirloom tomatoes, include 2 or 3 varieties (about 2 pounds total), washed and cut into large 2-inch pieces (Note: beautiful heirloom tomatoes are available at your local farmers market. Cosentino’s also has beautiful large beefsteak tomatoes that can be substituted for the heirlooms; however, they can’t compare to the flavor of ripe heirloom tomatoes.)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, chopped
• Sprinkle the sea bass fillets with salt and pepper on the side without the skin.
• Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil to the hot pan, swirl it a couple of times to coat the entire bottom of the pan and then add the sea bass fillets with the skin side down.
• Cook the fillets on that side for about 3 minutes until the flesh nearest the bottom begins to turn brown.
• Using a spatula, carefully turn the fillets over. Add the 2 tablespoons softened butter to one side of the pan, tilting the pan slightly towards that side and add the shallots to the butter.
• Using a spoon, scoop up some of the butter and shallots and pour over the tops of the fillets. Continue to do this for 2 minutes.
• Transfer the fillets to an oven-proof serving platter and place in the warmed oven with the polenta.
• Using the same skillet the fillets were cooked in, over medium-low heat, add the tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of cold butter, minced garlic and chopped fresh sage. Stir and cook for 2 – 3 minutes.
• To serve, pour the Tomato Sage Pan Sauce over the Seared Striped Sea Bass fillets and serve with Parmesan Polenta with Peas.
Note: this recipe is adapted from Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sustainable Recipes selection. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program also provides these tools to help people make environmentally-friendly choices about seafood:
– Print a pocket-sized West Coast Seafood Watch Guide.
– Mobile users visit mobile.seafoodwatch.org.
– Get Seafood Watch recommendations on your iPhone by downloading the free app.
For e-mail alerts of new articles from the San Jose Easy Meals Examiner, click on the Subscribe button above. And be sure to check out Margie’s Easy Meals for great recipes, weekly meals plans with corresponding grocery lists and easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions designed to help people with little or no cooking experience.