Striped Bass with Beet Green Ravioli and Citrus Beurre Blanc

This post is a beast.  There’s a lot of information to chew on, but why not?  🙂  That’s how much I love you.  We’ll look at three major components, and break them into digestible literary servings.  Part one; the ravioli.  And away we go!

Beet greens are sometimes discarded in the kitchen.  However, if you wash them well and pull the leaves apart from the stem, you’ve got a great braising green that’s flavorful, colorful, and free.

For the ravioli filling, I have a small dice of shallot, fennel, and garlic, along with some currants.  Sweat these aromatics in a little olive oil until they are tender, and then reserve them.

Cut up your clean beet greens, and saute them in the same pan, until they are pretty tender throughout.

Bring all of the first items together in a large bowl, and add the zest of a small lemon, a good dusting of nutmeg, and season with cayenne pepper and salt to taste.

Set the whole mess in a strainer or colander to allow the excess liquid to drain.

Set up a little station with the greens, a little egg wash (one egg whisked with a couple tablespoons of water), the fresh pasta sheets (2), and a couple of ring molds.

Portion out the filing, and brush around the filing with the egg wash.

Press around the filling with the first (smaller) ring mold, to ‘seal’ the egg wash, then cut out the ravioli with the larger ring.

Put a pot of salted water on to boil while your assembling the ravioli, and boil them once they are assembled.  Or, refrigerate (or freeze) for future use.

Here’s what the finished product may look like!  If you are going to serve them right away, go ahead.  If you will serve them once they have cooled and you need to reheat them, just drop them into some boiling water for 30-45 seconds, and you should be golden.

And now, the beurre blanc.  Beurre blanc, is simply a white wine and butter sauce. In this case, we’re replacing some of the white wine with citrus juice.  Here’s the standard ratio that I use for making 2 cups of sauce:

  • 2 cups white wine (here I replaced half the wine with equal parts orange and lemon juice)
  • 2 TBSP. white wine vinegar
  • 4 shallots (diced)
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 cups butter (cold, cut into thumb-sized chunks)

Put the diced shallots, wine, and vinegar into a pot, and reduce au sec.

Here’s a look at au sec.  It means ‘to dry’ or almost dry.  There’s a bad joke in the kitchen which goes; “Hey what comes after au sec?  Awww shit!”  Which is actually true.  If you reduce past the au sec point, ‘aww shit’ will be the first words out of your mouth.  Because you’ve almost certainly burnt the hell out of your sauce.

Add the cream, and reduce it by half.  This is going to help you keep the sauce from breaking.  Technically, if you add cream you’re making a beurre fondue, I think, but I won’t tell if you don’t.  After the cream is reduced, whisk in the butter pieces.  Here’s the only important point about the butter incorporation; you want to keep the sauce warm throughout.  That means you need to keep enough heat on the pot (but not tooo hot) to be able to incorporate the butter with out letting the sauce cool.  Make sense?  You want to keep everything in the pot hot to melt the butter, but not so hot that you break the sauce.

Once you’ve got all the butter incorporated, taste for seasoning.  Add any of the following: a squeeze of lemon, cayenne, salt.  Then strain the sauce.  In a restaurant, I would strain out into a thermos to keep the sauce warm.

At home, I strain out into a coffee mug that I’ve warmed up with hot water.  It will keep the sauce warm long enough for me to get the rest of the plate put together.

With thin skinned fish (like this bass from MA), I prefer to keep the skin on and sear the skin to keep it crisp and delicious looking.

Get the pan nice and hot, with a little vegetable oil.  Lay the fish in, skin-side down, and sear.  Season the flesh side of the fish as well.  At the point you see above, the fish is ready to be basted to finish.

Toss a couple tablespoons of butter into the pan with the fish.  Once it melts, start pouring the hot butter over the top of each fillet until the flesh is cooked (opaque).

Reserve the fish to a paper towel to rest while you put the rest of the plate together.

Quickly reheat the ravioli in some boiling water (with a little salt).

Dress the plates with the citrus butter sauce.  For presentations like this one, I like to put the sauce down first.  I think it looks cleaner, and when you eat the dish, you get some of the sauce in every forkful.

Remove the ravioli with a slotted spoon or spatula, and place them on the edge of the sauce.  Follow with the fish, and garnish.  Here I’ve used a little beet green and some tiny lettuces.

This is the kind of fish dish I could eat all the time.  I love the ravioli’s sweet/savory profile.  The sauce is light and rich all at once, and the fish is delicate and crisp.  There are so many textures and flavors all coming together, I love it.  I hope these pictures inspire you to give this dish a shot (or one like it!).  I’m sure you’ll find it satisfying and delicious.

Here’s to your best!-

-Scotty

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4 comments on “Striped Bass with Beet Green Ravioli and Citrus Beurre Blanc

  1. John C says:

    Scott:
    How would you describe the flavor of striped bass? Is it exceptionally “fishy”? Curious.

  2. swfoodworks says:

    Hey John!
    Not at all. It’s a really mild and versitile fish. Thin, white flesh fillets with a medium-sized flake (bigger than trout, but smaller than cod) and a touch of sweetness. I leave the thin skin on because the fillet is so thin and I don’t want to waste any of it. Also, the skin adds another dimension of flavor and texture. Give it a shot if you can find some! Hope all is well!
    -Scotty

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