STRIPED BASS WITH SORREL SAUCE

THE SAUCE FOR THIS PAN-COOKED FISH IS A SORREL BUERRE BLANC.  I FIRST ENCOUNTERED IT IN 1972 AT TROISGROS IN ROANNE WHERE IT WAS SERVED OVER A FILLET OF SALMON, COOKED BRIEFLY IN A TEFLON PAN.  IT BECAME THE TROISGROS BROTHERS' EMBLEMATIC DISH AND SOON COULD BE FOUND ON RESTAURANT MENUS IN NEW YORK, LONDON AND PROBABLY TOKYO, THOUGH I CAN'T ATTEST TO THE LATTER.  IT'S ALSO EMBLEMATIC OF NOUVELLE CUISINE; THE SIMPLEST USE OF THE BEST INGREDIENTS -- PERFECT FISH,  NORMANDY BUTTER AND FRESH SORREL.  I LEARNED HOW TO MAKE A BUERRE BLANC SO I COULD MAKE THIS DISH.  SO SHOULD YOU.  BUERRE BLANC, LIKE REDUCTIONS, WAS ONE OF A NEW GENERATION OF SAUCES WHICH BEGAN TO REPLACE FLOUR AND EGG-BASED SAUCES SUCH AS DEMI-GLACE, BECHAMEL AND HOLLANDAISE.  THESE HEAVIER SAUCES WERE OFTEN USED TO DISGUISE THE LACK OF FRESHNESS OF MEAT AND FISH BEFORE REFRIGERATION.  ROOM TEMPERATURE BUTTER IS BEATEN INTO A REDUCTION OF SCALLIONS, WHITE WINE AND WHITE WINE VINEGAR.  YOU COULD STOP THERE AND YOU'D HAVE A BUERRE BLANC, BUT THE SOUR BITE OF THE SORREL CUTS THROUGH THE BUTTER, MAKING IT IDEAL COMPLEMENT TO PRACTICALLY ANY FISH.  

 4 FILLETS OF STRIPED BASS (1/2 LB EACH) PREFERABLY WITH SKIN ON ONE SIDE.
 2 SCALLIONS
 1 STICK OF SALTED BUTTER
 ½ cup WHITE WINE
 ¼ cup WHITE WINE VINEGAR
 2 cups SORREL LEAVES

1

TRIM AND MINCE SCALLIONS.

PLACE IN A MEDIUM SAUCEPAN WITH 1/2 CUP WHITE WINE AND 1/4 CUP OF WHITE WINE VINEGAR. SEASON WITH A PINCH OF SALT AND SEVERAL GRINDINGS OF WHITE PEPPER.

SIMMER ON A LOW FLAME TILL MOST OF THE LIQUID HAS EVAPORATED. SET ASIDE.

CUT THE BUTTER INTO 1/2-INCH BITS AND PUT ON A SALAD -SIZED PLATE.

STRIP THE SORREL LEAVES FROM THE STEMS. STACK THEM LIKE A DECK OF CARDS. ROLL INTO A CYLINDER AND SLICE INTO JULIENNE STRIPS. PLACE IN A BOWL.

PRE-HEAT A LARGE SAUTÉ PAN FOR 2 MINUTES ON A MEDIUM-HIGH FLAME.

DRY THE FISH THOROUGHLY, SALT AND PEPPER.

FILM THE BOTTOM OF THE PAN WITH GRAPESEED OR SOME OTHER NEUTRAL OIL.

LAY THE FISH IN, SKIN-SIDE DOWN. SHAKE THE PAN TILL THE FISH DOESN'T STICK. REDUCE THE HEAT TO MEDIUM. COOK FOR ABOUT 3 MINUTES.

ADD 3 TBSPS OF BUTTER TO THE PAN AND COVER. CONTINUE COOKING FOR ANOTHER 3 MINUTES, REMOVING THE LID FROM TIME TO TIME TO BASTE THE FISH WITH MELTED BUTTER.

THE FISH IS DONE WHEN A SHARP KNIFE INSERTED IN THE CENTER FEELS WARM WHEN TOUCHED TO YOUR BOTTOM LIP.

REMOVE THE FISH TO FOUR WARM PLATES WHILE YOU FINISH THE SAUCE.

ADD A SPLASH OF WHITE WINE TO THE SAUCEPAN. BRING TO A SIMMER.

REMOVE FROM THE HEAT AND USING YOUR FINGERS TO ADD THE BUTTER A FEW BIT AT A TIME, WHISK IT INTO THE SCALLION, WINE AND VINEGAR REDUCTION.

WHEN ALL THE BUTTER HAS BEEN INCORPORATED, FOLD IN THE SORREL.

SPOON THE SAUCE OVER THE FISH AND SERVE.

SERVES 4

Ingredients

 4 FILLETS OF STRIPED BASS (1/2 LB EACH) PREFERABLY WITH SKIN ON ONE SIDE.
 2 SCALLIONS
 1 STICK OF SALTED BUTTER
 ½ cup WHITE WINE
 ¼ cup WHITE WINE VINEGAR
 2 cups SORREL LEAVES

Directions

1

TRIM AND MINCE SCALLIONS.

PLACE IN A MEDIUM SAUCEPAN WITH 1/2 CUP WHITE WINE AND 1/4 CUP OF WHITE WINE VINEGAR. SEASON WITH A PINCH OF SALT AND SEVERAL GRINDINGS OF WHITE PEPPER.

SIMMER ON A LOW FLAME TILL MOST OF THE LIQUID HAS EVAPORATED. SET ASIDE.

CUT THE BUTTER INTO 1/2-INCH BITS AND PUT ON A SALAD -SIZED PLATE.

STRIP THE SORREL LEAVES FROM THE STEMS. STACK THEM LIKE A DECK OF CARDS. ROLL INTO A CYLINDER AND SLICE INTO JULIENNE STRIPS. PLACE IN A BOWL.

PRE-HEAT A LARGE SAUTÉ PAN FOR 2 MINUTES ON A MEDIUM-HIGH FLAME.

DRY THE FISH THOROUGHLY, SALT AND PEPPER.

FILM THE BOTTOM OF THE PAN WITH GRAPESEED OR SOME OTHER NEUTRAL OIL.

LAY THE FISH IN, SKIN-SIDE DOWN. SHAKE THE PAN TILL THE FISH DOESN'T STICK. REDUCE THE HEAT TO MEDIUM. COOK FOR ABOUT 3 MINUTES.

ADD 3 TBSPS OF BUTTER TO THE PAN AND COVER. CONTINUE COOKING FOR ANOTHER 3 MINUTES, REMOVING THE LID FROM TIME TO TIME TO BASTE THE FISH WITH MELTED BUTTER.

THE FISH IS DONE WHEN A SHARP KNIFE INSERTED IN THE CENTER FEELS WARM WHEN TOUCHED TO YOUR BOTTOM LIP.

REMOVE THE FISH TO FOUR WARM PLATES WHILE YOU FINISH THE SAUCE.

ADD A SPLASH OF WHITE WINE TO THE SAUCEPAN. BRING TO A SIMMER.

REMOVE FROM THE HEAT AND USING YOUR FINGERS TO ADD THE BUTTER A FEW BIT AT A TIME, WHISK IT INTO THE SCALLION, WINE AND VINEGAR REDUCTION.

WHEN ALL THE BUTTER HAS BEEN INCORPORATED, FOLD IN THE SORREL.

SPOON THE SAUCE OVER THE FISH AND SERVE.

SERVES 4

STRIPED BASS WITH SORREL SAUCE
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