Sea Bass in Pastry with Sauce Choron

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A fish with an exquisite, concentrated taste, bass (also known as perch) retains all its flavor in this recipe, thanks to the pastry case. This dish is typical of the “Bocusienne” culinary tradition.

Preparation time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Resting time: 1 hour

Drink Pairing

A 2005 white Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the Domaine Saint Préfert.

Ingredients

Sea Bass

  • 1 bass weighing around pounds (800 g), skinned
  • Table salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 2 packages flaky pastry
  • 1 egg yolk

Mousse

  • ounces (100 g) skinless fillet of bass
  • ounces (100 g) scallops, rinsed and dried
  • Table salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • cup (200 ml) heavy cream
  • ¼ cup (50 g) softened butter
  • 1 ounce (30 g) shelled pistachios
  • 1 teaspoon tarragon

Sauce Choron

  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 shallots
  • ¾ cups (150 g) butter
  • 1 teaspoon tarragon
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon tomato concentrate
  • Table salt
  • 1 knife point coarsely ground pepper

Method

Prepare the Sea Bass

  1. Cut the fish under the gill, as far as the central bone. Split the skin all along the back.

  2. Slip the blade of the knife under the skin, and peel it back over the whole side, pulling it toward the tail. Do the same thing on the other side.

  3. Take out the spine by pulling it. Salt and pepper the fish on both sides. Sprinkle it with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Keep it cool in the refrigerator.

Make the Mousse

  1. Cut the fish into pieces. Put them into the bowl of a food processor, along with the scallops and 2 teaspoons of table salt. Mix. Add ten twists of the peppermill. Add the whole egg and egg yolk, and mix.

  2. Add the cream, mix, then scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the butter. Mix again. Tip the mixture into a bowl. Chop the pistachios and the tarragon and add them. Let harden in a cool place for at least 1 hour.

Make the Sauce Choron

  1. Heat the wine vinegar in a saucepan.
  2. Peel the shallots. Make vertical and horizontal cuts in them, then dice.

  3. Put them into the vinegar and let it reduce to dry* over high heat. Reserve.*

  4. Melt the butter. Chop the tarragon.
  5. Put the egg yolks into a saucepan with 2 teaspoons of water. Mix.
  6. Heat over low heat while beating well, so that the mixture thickens (into a sabayon). Take it off the heat.

  7. Gradually add the butter while continuing to stir. Add the shallot reduction, the tarragon, then the tomato concentrate. Season with a little salt and pepper.

  8. Roll out the pastry dough on its paper. Cut two 1¼-inch (3-cm) strips, and stick them onto the sides to form a rectangle (if your pastry is round; otherwise roll out a rectangle on greaseproof paper).
  9. Lay the bass on the pastry. Heat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

  10. Fill a piping bag, without a nozzle, with the mousse. Pipe a little mousse into the gills of the fish.
  11. Repeat this into the inside of the fish. Mix the egg yolk with 1 teaspoon of water and a pinch of salt. Spread a little of this glaze on the pastry around the fish, using a brush.

  12. Roll out the second packet of flaky pastry. Cut off a strip about inches (6 cm) wide and set aside for the decoration. Lay the pastry over the fish. Press all around to make the two layers of pastry stick together. Cut the excess pastry back to within about ¾-inch (2-cm) of the fish, drawing in the side fins and the tail. Glaze the fish with the egg wash.

  13. Copy the appearance of fins and tail: Mark the pastry with a ½-inch (12-mm) nozzle for the scales. Draw in the eye and the mouth. Cut a strip of pastry measuring ½ by 6 inch (12 mm by 15 cm).
  14. Place it at the base of the head. Cut out a fin and stick it on. Make a small ball of pastry and place it on the eye. Glaze again with egg wash. Trim the greaseproof paper to within ½ inch (12 mm) of the pastry. Slide the fish on to a baking tray and bake for 25 minutes. Serve with the sauce Choron.

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