Michael “Mike” Doctulero, executive chef at Scott’s Restaurant & Bar in Costa Mesa, fell in love with cooking early in his childhood. Working in the kitchen with his grandfather fueled the fun. One of his fondest early memories is the time spent with his granddad while spreading newspaper on the kitchen table and devouring fresh Dungeness crab. Earlier in the day, they caught the treasured seafood off the San Francisco piers.
In his almost 20 years at the restaurant, Doctulero’s inventive style with fish cookery has consistently impressed me. When I asked him to share some secrets in a video, he suggested the popular Chilean seabass that is marinated in a sake kasu mixture, an then seared and served with sushi rice and tangy red pepper relish.
Watch this short video to see all the tricks for making this dish.
It’s over-the-moon delicious, but I was concerned about the fish species’ sustainability status.
I queried him about the Chilean seabass (Patagonian Toothfish) and he assured me that it is no longer on the endangered list, referring me to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium’s Website, Seafood Watch.
“Longline-caught Chilean seabass from the Heard and McDonald Islands, the Falkland Islands and Macquarie Island are a ‘best choice’ because of effective management practices that have ramped up to preserve an abundant population, and mitigated the effects of catching unwanted species,” according to the Website (seafoodwatch.org). “Each of these toothfish fisheries, with the exception of the Falkland Islands, is certified as sustainable to the standard of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).”
If you wish, other firm white-fleshed fish can be substituted.
Scott’s Sake Kasu Chilean Seabass
Yield: 4 servings
1/4 cup sake kasu, see cook’s notes
2 cups water
4 (5 to 6 ounces each) Chilean seabass fillets
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
4 cups cooked nishiki sushi rice, see cook’s notes
8 cups clean spinach, thick stems removed
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
About 4 tablespoons red pepper relish, recipe included
Cook’s notes: Sake kasu are the lees (residual yeast) left over from sake production. It is sold at Marukai or Mitsuwa markets in Costa Mesa. If desired, substitute white miso (sold at natural food stores, Japanese markets and some supermarkets). For sushi rice, rinse 2 cups Japanese rice (such as Nishiki) with water. Drain. Place in rice cooker; add water to 1 inch above the top of the rice; cover, and cook. Allow it to rest 10 minutes. Transfer rice to a large shallow bowl; using a diagonal slicing motion, gently cut into rice with a wooden paddle. Pour 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar over top of rice. “Cut” rice with paddle several times to evenly distribute vinegar mixture, then cool. Gently turn rice over from time to time with paddle so that rice cools evenly.
1. In a large nonreactive bowl, combine sake kasu and water (you may need to work it in with your hands to dissolve it). Add fish and marinate, covered in refrigerator, 4 to 6 hours.
2. Prepare sushi rice and red pepper relish.
3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a hot large, deep ovenproof skillet, heat half of oil on high heat. Sear both sides of the marinated bass, then bake in preheated oven, 6 to 8 minutes or until just cooked through (time varies depending on thickness of fish).
4. Heat remaining olive oil in large, deep skillet. Add spinach and cook, tossing frequently until leaves are soft, yet a little crunchy. Season with salt and pepper Plate spinach and sushi rice on individual plates. Remove fish from oven; place over rice and spinach. Top with red pepper relish.
Red Pepper Relish
Yield: about 2 cups
2 red peppers, seeds removed, cut into 1/4-inch dice, see cook’s notes
1 jalapeno, stem and seeds removed, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 cup sugar
1 whole (small) lemon, cut into 4 pieces, seeds removed if present
1 cup water
1 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
Cook’s notes: Chef Doctulero uses ripe (red) fresh Fresno chilies. If you can’t find them, substitute red bell peppers, adding a little more jalapeno if desired for desired spiciness.
1. Place all ingredients into a large, deep non-stick skillet. Simmer slowly until sugar is dissolved and mixture reduces to a marmalade consistency, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Source: Mike Doctulero, executive chef Scott’s Restaurant & Bar, Costa Mesa
Here’s a quick tip from Melissa’s ….
In French homes, a simple salad is often served after the entrée as a separate course. It’s a refreshing palate cleanser, sometimes followed with a cheese course, fruit or something sweet. A simple trick enables the host or hostess to stay at the table and toss the salad with the dressing when it is time to serve it.
The vinaigrette is made in the bottom of the salad bowl, and then the salad servers (often referred to as salad tongs) are crisscrossed over the dressing for a makeshift shelf. The torn lettuce is gingerly placed on top of the tongs. The salad is placed close to the host or hostess, generally on a side table or cart.
At serving time, the tongs are removed and the lettuce falls into the dressing and is quickly tossed and served. Voila!