Sea bass, beluga lentils, dashi & sake sauce

Dashi really is da shi*. Collective YAY for ramen and, more precisely, the smoky taste of bonito flakes. I decided to test this dashi-inspired Japanese 🇯🇵 – 🇫🇷 French fusion sauce-idea that turned out great. It combines dashi-tastes (bonito flakes, kombu, shiitake) with sake, soy sauce and rice vinegar in a typical French cuisine-method sauce. Peppery mushroom lentils combine very well with the smoky sweet sauce and of course the ✨beluga✨ kind of lentils is a treat just to look at. Simply let the sauce play the lead role and combine with the crispiest fish you’ll ever eat.

Oh yea, there’s butter involved 👊


For two (actually kind of normal portions, first time for everything):

Sauce:

  • 1,5 cup (400ml) of boiling chicken stock
  • 1 dehydrated shiitake mushroom
  • 2 inch piece of kombu
  • 1/2 cup of sake
  • 1 large shallot, coarsely chopped
  • 1t of flour
  • 1 handful of bonito flakes
  • 1/2T of soy sauce
  • 1t of rice vinegar
  • 4T of butter

Lentils:

  • 1/2 heaped cup of lentils
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 1 eryngii mushroom, diced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1T parsley
  • 1T dill
  • 1T chives

Fish: 2 sea bass fillets, skin on

+ olive oil, salt, pepper, cast iron or stainless steel skillet

Sauce: In a small bowl, pour the boiling chicken stock over 1 dehydrated shiitake, cover and let steep for 15 min. Add a piece of kombu, cover again and let steep for another 15 min. Remove the kombu, lightly squeeze the liquid out of the shiitake and roughly chop the mushroom and shallot.

Melt 1T of butter in a saucepan, add shallot and chopped shiitake and cook for about a minute until shallot starts to soften. Add 1t of flour and cook for another 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup of sake, your shiitake-infused chicken broth, 1/2T of soy sauce and a large handful of bonito flakes. Softly simmer until reduced to about half its volume (about 15 min). Strain and add 1t of rice vinegar. You can leave this covered (off the heat of course) until ready to serve.

Prepare 3T of diced cold butter and reheat (if necessary) your sauce until boiling. Off the heat, mix in the cold butter with an immersion blender for a frothy emulsified result.

Lentils: Put the lentils in a sieve and rinse thoroughly under running cold water. Put in a pan with twice the amount of chicken stock (1 cup). Cover, bring to a boil and let simmer on low heat until cooked but retaining a good bite (about 20 min). Drain in a sieve.

Heat a splash of olive oil in a skillet on a high heat, add eryngii mushrooms and cook until they start to brown just a little. Lower the heat and add shallot and garlic. Cook until soft, add lentils and combine. You can leave this covered (off the heat of course) until ready to serve.

Reheat if necessary and stir in your herbs off the heat.

 

Fish: This is the totally perfect Serious Eats-method for cooking super crispy fish. With a knife, scrape any moisture off the fillets and pat dry with kitchen towels (they should be ex-tre-me-ly com-ple-te-ly dry). Heat a layer of oil in you cast iron or stainless steel skillet until smoking hot. When the oil is hot, season the fish with salt and pepper on both sides and lower the first one skin side down in your skillet. Move it around to test if it sticks. If not, lower the complete fillets into the pan – away from you so you don’t get splashed with oil. If they do stick, wait for your oil to get hotter. With a slotted spatula, press down softly (but all over) on the fillets so they don’t curl up.

Lower the heat to a more moderate level (but don’t lose the sizzle) and cook until you see some browning around the edges and the heat has almost completely crept up to the surface of your fillet. Flip it (with a very thin slotted spatula, scraping the bottom of the pan so you don’t damage the skin) and very briefly (we’re talking seconds) leave it there until just cooked. This is the method for very thin fillets; the one for thicker ones is to complete cooking them in an oven.

 

 

Serve: Heap the lentils onto two plates and position a crispy fish fillet on each of those. Pour a royal amount of sauce around each portion and serve!

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Sea bass, beluga lentils, dashi & sake sauce

 

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