Nobody pens a cookbook quite like chef Richard Blais, winner of Bravo’s Top Chef All-Stars and Top Chef judge. His latest collection of recipes hails from his home kitchen, where he creates the dishes his family and friends have come to love. Read the stories behind these beloved meals, then make this sea bass with ginger beer and bok choy for dinner in under an hour.
You could call this an entry-level fish dish — it’s that easy. But beyond its simplicity, the fatty lusciousness of sea bass contrasts gorgeously with the crunch of bok choy and the spiciness of the sauce spiked with ginger beer.
Note: Chilean sea bass is pretty expensive and rare. If you can’t find it or would rather use another fish, try black cod (also called Alaskan sablefish). It’s more affordable and plentiful in our oceans, and it has a similar buttery texture and mild but delicious flavor as sea bass. I always check with the Seafood Watch app, which is run by the greatly respected Monterey Bay Aquarium. This keeps me up to date with what fish are currently sustainable and good choices.
- 1 bunch bok choy (about 1 pound)
- kosher salt
- 4 Chilean sea bass fillets (6 to 8 ounces each)
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 12-ounce bottle ginger beer
- 1 1-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- Juice from 1 lime
- 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, or 2 lime leaves, sliced (optional)
For the fish
Trim the bok choy and cut out any thick stems.
Rinse under cool, running water and shake most of the water from the leaves.
Pour water into a large, deep skillet to a depth of 2 inches or so and season lightly with salt. Put a steamer basket over the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Put the bok choy leaves (they don’t have to be dry) in the skillet, salt lightly, cover the pan, and reduce the heat to medium. Steam the bok choy until the leaves wilt, 7 to 9 minutes. Remove the lid from the skillet and continue cooking for about 1 minute to evaporate any excess water clinging to the leaves (there will be some water in the pan, but no worries).
Meanwhile, season the sea bass fillets on both sides with salt and pepper.
In a large sauté pan, heat the sesame oil with 1 tablespoon of the butter over mediumhigh heat. When hot, add the fillets and cook until golden brown and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove the fillets from the heat, set aside on a plate, and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
Pour the ginger beer into the sauté pan (after you’ve taken a few nips yourself) and stir to mix with the pan juices. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat a little, and simmer until the beer evaporates, leaving a thickish, slightly oozy glaze in the pan, 8 to 10 minutes. As the pan sauce simmers, stir it with a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add the grated ginger and lime juice to the pan and swirl to mix. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons butter and stir until the pan sauce is smooth and thick.
Serve the fillets on top of the wilted bok choy. Spoon a little sauce over the fish and garnish with the cilantro, if desired.