Turmeric rubbed Branzino en papillote with Tatsoi & Fresh Roasted Peanuts

I had the most inspiring meal last weekend. There was no nine course meal or wine pairings or molecular gastro-anything, but all the same, this meal revitalized my taste buds in a way that redefined "hitting the spot".  It's these simple, unadorned meals that leave me and my appetite satisfied. My Thai meal at Jitlada with fellow food lovers Jamie and Susan left me yearning for more boldly spiced food. I was thinking lots of spices and flavors and definitely lots of garlic.

Going through my regular Saturday morning routine of the farmers' market for produce, Italian deli for bread and Santa Monica Seafood for seafood (duh!), I found myself getting embarrassingly giddy over my prospects for dinner. Big food nerd, I know! We had ordered a delicious whole fried Sea Bass smothered with fried garlic bits at Jitlada. The garlic was fried to a deep, dark golden brown. A second longer in the oil and they would have been bitter, but at this point they were perfection. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Mmm… so good! I wanted to make a rendition of this at home, but frying a whole fish at home was out of the question. Too much oil equals too big of a mess to clean up. Besides the scent of fried fish would linger in the air for days. I decided that I would cook my whole Branzino (aka Loup de mer) en papillote (encased in parchment). It would steam and bake at the same time. How healthy of me right?

I rubbed the outside with a mix of turmeric, toasted coriander, mustard seeds and sea salt. I stuffed the cavity with ginger, garlic and fresh cilantro.  After wrapping it up in parchment, I popped it in the oven along with some fresh peanuts (also snagged from the farmers' market). I thought these would be fun served alongside the fish. Interactive eating creates a fun relaxed dining atmosphere.

I fried some thinly sliced shallots and garlic. Don't make the same mistake as me. Use a big pot. The shallots and garlic hold a lot of moisture which causes the oil to bubble up – or over in my case. I was also thrilled to served it with a bunch of tatsoi for a fresh counterpart to all the assertive spices. I couldn't pass up these guys with their delicately curved, spoon-like leaves.  Every meal needs a little green.

Lots of aggressive spices, tempered by the mild white flesh of the Branzino left a little heat in your mouth. Now crack open a few peanut shells to enjoy some freshly, roasted peanuts. Have a bite of tatsoi to refresh your palate. Now repeat as needed.


  • Food Rockz Man

    09 Oct 2008 09:10 pm

    Wow . . . flashback . . . I soooo miss the Saturday morning routine of farmers market, Bay Cities Deli and Santa Monica Seafood.  And this dish, in a word . . . AWESOME!

  • Tubbydammer

    12 Oct 2008 12:10 pm

    You roasted the peanuts in their shells? How long does that take?

  • julie

    13 Oct 2008 04:10 pm

    My peanuts roasted up in about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.


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