Pan-Seared Black Sea Bass with Caramelized Red Pepper Sauce

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Yields 4 servings


4 7-ounce black sea bass fillets, skin on
4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ cup vodka
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 small red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, and cut into large dice
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup fish stock or chicken stock
¼ cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon butter, melted
¾ cup julienned peeled daikon, soaked in ice water to crisp
¼ cup sliced (2-inch lengths) fresh chives or chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Rinse the sea bass fillets under cold running water and dry well with paper towels. Place the fillets in a shallow dish large enough to hold them in a single layer.Mix 2 tablespoons of the oil, the vodka, soy sauce, and ginger in a small bowl. Pour over the sea bass and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, turning once or twice.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Remove the fish from the marinade and place on a plate. Reserve the marinade. Heat the 1 teaspoon oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until lightly golden, about 30 seconds. Add the red pepper, balsamic vinegar, the reserved marinade, and the stock. Bring to a boil, turn the heat to low, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are very soft. Remove from the heat and puree in a food processor or blender until smooth. Spoon the sauce into a small saucepan and keep warm.

Sprinkle the cornstarch over the skin side of the fish and pat lightly so it adheres. Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. When it is hot, add 2 fillets skin side down and cook until the skin is browned and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon half the melted butter over the flesh side and transfer the fish, skin side up, to a baking pan large enough to hold all the fillets in a single layer. Repeat with the remaining fillets. Bake the sea bass for 5 to 7 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish; the flesh should be white throughout when you test it with a knife.

Place the fillets skin side up on serving plates. Spoon the sauce around the fish, garnish with the daikon and chives or parsley, and serve.