Sunday, November 14, 2010


For the sauce:
12 pitted medjool dates, cut in half lengthwise
1 tsp canola oil
3 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
1/2 sweet onion, finely diced
1/3 cup slivered almonds, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp sherry (optional)
1 cup chicken or fish stock
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the fish:
4 (4 to 6 oz) filets of sea bass or halibut
2 tbsp canola oil
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For serving:
1 crusty sourdough baguette, heated in the oven and sliced

To make the sauce: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place dates onto a baking dish or sheet pan and drizzle with 1 tsp canola oil. Toss to coat. Set aside.

Add diced bacon to a large saute pan over medium-low heat. Cook bacon until most of the fat has rendered out, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

After the bacon has cooked for about 5 minutes, place the prepared dates into the 350 degree oven. Roast dates for 7 minutes, then turn off oven. Leave dates in oven until ready to add to the sauce.

Once most of the fat has rendered out of the bacon, add the diced onion, a pinch of freshly cracked black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes to the saute pan. Saute onion and bacon for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to turn translucent. Add the almonds to the pan and stir. Saute the almond-bacon mixture for another 4 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the almonds turn golden. Add the garlic to the pan and saute for 1 more minute, stirring frequently.

Deglaze the pan with the sherry and sherry vinegar, stirring to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the stock to the pan, stir, raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Remove dates from oven and add to simmering sauce. Stir. Remove sauce from heat. Add parsley to the sauce and stir to incorporate. Taste sauce. Adjust seasonings to taste with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

To sear the fish: As soon as the dates go into the oven, place a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Preheat pan for 3 minutes. While pan is preheating, season all sides of fish with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Add canola oil to the preheated pan, turning the pan to coat the bottom with oil. Once the oil ripples with heat, add the seasoned fish fillets to the pan, serving side-down. (Note: The first side of any meat that touches the pan will get the best sear so always place the prettier side of the meat/fish directly onto the heat first.) Sear fish for 3 to 4 minutes until a golden crust has formed on the bottom of the fish and the flesh releases itself from the pan. If the fish sticks to the pan at all and resists flipping, the fish is not ready yet. Flip and saute fish for another approximately 4 minutes or until just cooked through and opaque in the middle.

To serve: Remove fish from heat. Place 1 fillet in the middle of a large plate or bowl. Top fish with 1/4 of the sauce and serve with a couple large slices of seedy sourdough bread. Repeat plating 3 more times for a total of 4 servings.

bacon recipe courtesy of: Amanda Simpson, What We're Eating: A Food & Recipe Blog, San Diego, California

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