Pan Roasted Striped Bass* with Preserved Lemon Sauce and Almond Picada
By Thom Fox - ACME Chophouse, San Francisco, CA

Serves 4

Ingredients for the preserved lemons:
6 lemons
1 C kosher salt

Wash lemons and cut down from the non-stem end three-quarters of the way to the other end, into 4 sections. Stuff each cut lemon with kosher salt, about 1 cup total. Pack together in a clean jar. Cover with lid and refrigerate for 3 weeks. Eventually, the juices of the lemons will be released and their flavor and texture wonderfully transformed. Alternatively, preserved lemons may be purchased from specialty food stores or from the Internet.

Ingredients for the preserved lemon sauce:
1/2 C preserved lemon rind (about 2 lemons)
1 medium shallot, minced
2 T Champagne vinegar
1 T tarragon, minced
1 C olive oil
Salt to taste

Combine shallot and vinegar and marinate for 15 minutes. In blender, combine shallot/vinegar mix, preserved lemon rind and olive oil. Blend until smooth. Fold in minced tarragon. Adjust seasonings.

Ingredients for the picada:
1/2 C sliced almonds
1/2 t garlic, minced on a Microplane
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 t salt
1/4 C parsley, chopped

Toss all but parsley together in bowl and spread on baking sheet. Lightly toast in 350∞ F oven.
Mix almonds with 1/4 cup chopped parsley.

Ingredients for the striped bass:
4 6-oz. pieces striped bass fillet
1 T olive oil
Salt and pepper

Season each piece of fish with salt and pepper. Heat a nonstick sautÈ pan over moderate heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and add fish to pan. Cook quickly over moderately-high heat for about 1 minute. Turn fish pieces over and transfer to 350∞ F oven. Cook until done, about 3 minutes.

To Assemble and Serve:
Place each piece of fish on a plate and sauce lightly with preserved lemon sauce. Top each with 2 tablespoons of almond picada.

This dish is particularly wonderful with a small salad of piquant, crunchy greens like wild arugula, frisée, ancho cress or young dandelion greens.

*Seafood Watch: recommends farmed or wild-caught striped bass from the U.S.

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