Any firm-fleshed fish (such as halibut, cod, snapper, salmon, grouper, etc.) may be substituted for the bass. Just make sure that the filets are about 1 inch thick or adjust the cooking time accordingly.
2 tablespoons peanut oil
4 1-inch-thick, center-cut striped bass
fillets (6 ounces each), skin on
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
Coarse sea salt
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it slides easily across the pan. Dry the fillets thoroughly with paper towels, season them with kosher salt and pepper on both sides, then add them, skin-side down, to the skillet. Reduce the heat (the oil should sizzle, not sputter) and cook the fillets until the skins crisp, about 3 minutes. Turn the fillets and gently brown the other side, about 3 minutes more.
2. Add the butter and thyme. Continue cooking the fillets, turning them over once or twice (so that they brown evenly) and basting with the lightly browning butter. Cook until the fish is opaque, about 4 minutes more. Serve at once, drizzled with the browned butter and sprinkled with coarse sea salt.
The Skin of the Fish
Ask anyone what the best part of a fried chicken is and they'll tell you: the crispy, flavorful skin. The same holds true for the skin of the fish. I'm always amazed to see, when plates are cleared in my restaurants, how many people carefully peel the skin off and leave it aside. If you brown the skin correctly in the pan, it will form a delicious crisp crust, which I defy anyone to throw away! In order to cook the fillet evenly, though, remember to cook the skin side a little longer than the other, since the layer of fat just under the skin insulates the flesh and slows down the cooking.
Think Like a Chef
A Cook's Guide
by Tom Colicchio
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created June 2002
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