Pan-fried sea bass with echalion herb butter sauce

That’s shallot …actually, it’s an echalion, a cross between an onion and a shallot that brings out the best in a host of recipes

The fresh-tasting, creamy sauce complements the delicate sea bass; cod or haddock fillets make good alternatives.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 fillets sea bass
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
For the herb butter sauce:
  • 150g/5oz unsalted butter
  • 200g/7oz echalions, peeled and diced
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 250ml/9fl oz white wine
  • 100ml/4fl oz white wine vinegar
  • 100ml/4fl oz double cream
  • 50ml/2fl oz lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh chervil

First make the sauce. Gently heat 20g/3/4oz of the butter in a saucepan, add the echalions, thyme, bay leaf, a pinch of salt and a generous amount of pepper (about 12 turns of a black pepper mill), then cook for 2 minutes until softened. Add the white wine and vinegar and simmer until reduced by two-thirds, then stir in the cream and simmer until reduced by half.

Whisk in the remaining butter, add the lemon juice and check the seasoning. Remove the thyme sprig and the bay leaf, stir in the chopped herbs and set aside, keeping warm.

For the fish, heat the olive oil in a nonstick frying pan. Dust the fillets with the flour, season and add to the hot pan, skin-side up. Cook for 2 minutes, then turn the fish over and cook for a further 2 minutes. Serve with the sauce, some new potatoes and steamed green beans.

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