Were there to be a hall of fame for best savory toppings, this might have to be my entry…
The colorful combination of shallots, garlic, chiles, walnuts, and a fresh squeeze of lemon is rich and nutty with a zing of heat, and is fit to bless just about anything (A toasty cheese sandwich! Roasted veg! Leftover chicken!) but especially a light but filling filet of fish.
Scatter a few juicy sweet pops of pomegranate seeds overtop, and serve alongside golden brown roasted potatoes with coriander and oregano for a meal that elevates weeknight to fancy fun… go for it!
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
4 (5 to 6-ounce) fillets skin-on black sea bass, bones removed – or other fish! I used branzino in the video and this also works beautifully with salmon filets
½ teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons avocado oil, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 fresno chiles, thinly sliced
1 (4.4-ounce) container pomegranate seeds
½ cup chopped roasted walnuts
1 lemon, juice and zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
•Pat the fish fillets very dry on both sides using a paper towel. If using a thick filet of fish, score the skin on the back with a sharp paring knife. This will help it to crisp. If you’re using a thin filet like branzino, scoring is optional but make sure you slice shallow hashes, only about ¼” thick and not puncturing the flesh-side surface of the filet. Season the fish with coriander, salt and pepper.
•Heat a large cast-iron skillet or non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat. If working in batches, add half the avocado oil and allow to heat over medium flame. Cook the first two filets of fish skin-side down first until golden and the fillet is almost cooked through, about 4 to 6 minutes (less for thinner filets). If the fillets begin to curl at all, press down with a spatula to help flatten. Add half the butter to the pan and allow it to froth and foam, spooning over the surface of the fish. This will help achieve maximum golden brown color and flavor. Flip the fillets and cook another 2 to 3 minutes or to desired doneness. Cooked sea bass will be just opaque and flake easily with a fork. Remove to serving plate. Repeat with remaining fish and ingredients.
•Once fish is cooked, drain and wipe down the skillet if the oil inside is burnt, then add a fresh tablespoon or two. Otherwise, you can use what remains and add the shallot, garlic and fresno chile and cook for 3 minutes until softened. Deglaze the pan with lemon juice and add the walnuts. Stir to combine and allow to cook another minute or so. Taste for seasoning.
•Serve the fish layered with topping and a scattering of fresh pomegranate seeds for a sweet and juicy pop! Garnish with lemon zest and flaky sea salt just before serving. I also added a side of Garlic & Coriander Roasted Potatoes which are definitely optional – just scrub and quarter some Yukon gold potatoes before tossing with olive oil, garlic salt, crushed coriander and chile flake. Roast at 450F, tossing intermittently, until interior is tender and sides are golden brown and crisp. I like to add a handful of fresh oregano a few minutes before the potatoes are finished for a fragrant, herby kick.