Orange-Mustard Roasted Sea Bass | Cauliflower & Mushroom Risotto | Pickled Leek
POSSIBLY INFLUENCED BY A PAST Top Chef Quickfire Challenge, I woke up one morning last week with the idea of making a dish that only consisted of white food. As in the color white. And, of course, it took me a few days to put a recipe together once I figured it would involved rice.

Rice evolved into a risotto, then a cauliflower risotto. And although I had just recently cooked with sea bass, I decided I would use it again, first, to sit nice and firm over a nice creamy risotto, and second, to hold up to whatever crisp vegetables were going to eventually sit on top.

I still had no set plan this afternoon, yet picked up some white mushrooms at Food Emporium along with fresh cauliflower, and opted, in-store, to bring home a leek bulb, choosing to make a salad of julienned leek instead of a slaw, an idea of which never fully gelled in my head.

Realizing as I walked the two blocks home that if I used the mushrooms—which, although an almost white "tan" color on its exterior, the inside parts ran all the way to a full brown—the dish would lose the "purity" of its absence of color in execution, ultimately, this dish most needed to taste good!

So, after tossing thin freshly-sliced white parts of leek in some white wine vinegar, jalapeño juice (from a jar of jalapeños), and lemon juice, I sealed them in some Gladware and threw that into the fridge. I placed two sea bass filets into a shallow oven-ready pan and topped them with olive oil, coriander powder, a rub of spicy brown mustard, a pat of butter, lemon zest, and a drizzle of both roange and lemon juices. Those got covered and sealed with tin foil and thrown into a 300° oven.

I started the risotto in a large, deep skillet by sautéing the white mushrooms, thinly sliced, in some olive oil salt and fresh cracked pepper. Then a cup of white rice was stirred in, making sure to coat them in the oil. Then—yes, a slow and steady process—I continued to stir the rice, spooning in some chopped garlic, then adding chicken stock, a little wine, and some water, for 15–20 minutes, finishing it with finely chopped cauliflower (earlier steamed), a little heavy cream, some shaved parmesan cheese, salt and fresh cracked pepper.

The risotto got spooned onto a plate, the sea bass, removed from the oven and uncovered, gets placed on top, spooning some splashes of the residual pan liquid on top. The pickled julienned leeks got removed from the fridge and get modestly arranged on top of the fish. Then I sprinkled sesame seeds over the leeks.

I was so happy I made taste the final priority. The risotto was creamy, aromatic, earthy, "toothsome", and layered with subtle but differentiating flavors. The sea bass was moist yet flaky, heightened by the slight, sweet tang of the mustard and citrus tastes that were present throughout the fish's flesh, while the coriander powder supplied a nice hint of floral savoriness. The cold, crisp, piquant pickled leek strips were well served by the slightly spicy kick of jalapeño juice and accents of acidity, almost tickling the back of the nose with those properties.

Coming up next? "Back In Black"! Any ideas to get me started...? ;)

Bun Apple Tea!


Orange-Mustard Roasted Sea Bass | Cauliflower & Mushroom Risotto | Pickled Leek