Sea Bass Pan Fried in Wild Garlic Butter
with crushed new potatoes, peas, parsley and spinach
Beautiful white fish with foraged alliums
Sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) often also known as European Bass or Branzino is a favourite on restaurant menus thanks to it's delicate flavour, soft flesh and general air of sophistication. With it's gorgeous silvery grey colour it's quite the Ondine of the seafood world. Found in European and North African waters, most of the fish we eat here is farmed in the Med which can offer a reasonably sustainable choice (see the Marine Conservation Society Good Fish Guide for more info). It's not cheap either, so I like to balance the environmental impact and cost against its taste, versatility and glamour to enjoy a few times a year.
I've paired it here with wild garlic, the thinner three corned leek version with pretty white bell flowers seems to appear earlier ('on the sunny side of the street') while the thicker ramsons with pompom blooms shoot up in shady, damper conditions; these were from near the Water of Leith. They are all related to the oniony allium family and you can use chives, garlic chives or spring onion at other times of year.
The green shoots of wild garlic are one of the cheeriest signs of spring, so enjoy it while you can, though a friend of mine claims he's seen it growing here in August - that's Scotland for you. As ever, forage responsibly and take an experienced forager with you if you're a beginner.
This method of cooking fish is great; I use an Ikea 'non-stick' frying pan I've had for ten years and a plastic fish slice and always get decent results. Get the pan high and the fish dry, and it should come together okay.
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