We all know it as Dicentrarchus labrax or sea bass but did you know that in the north of France, Normandy and Brittany they call it "bar" and in Aquitaine and the South of France it's "le loup de mer" or "loubine." There you have some cocktail factoids, you never know when you'll need them. This sea bass recipe was inspired by a little restaurant in Argelès-sur-Mer, an enchanting "petit coin" in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. The restauarant is called, quite appropriately, Le Loup de Mer or The Sea Bass. If you happen to be the area, the restaurant is easily found at 81 Boulevard de la Mer - a block away from the Avenue de la Marende. But if you find yourself at the water's edge, you'll need to recalibrate your GPS. This cozy little place, in my opinion, offers some of the finest local seafood around with an exciting menu that includes fish à la planxa, a wide selection of raw or cooked shellfish, tapas from sea, mussels gratinées with ailloli or perhaps just anchovie butter, duck liver pâté "maison" and poached pears with Banyuls which is a delicious fortified wine du pays. All in all, it's a little bit of heaven by the water's edge.
Sea Bass, Languedoc Style - Loup de Mer a la Languedoc
Ingredients 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 1-inch thick, 8-ounce sea bass fillets or tuna steaks 12 large garlic cloves, sliced 8 fresh thyme sprigs (left whole) 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice Chopped fresh chives or green onion tops
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy, large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Season fish with salt and pepper.
Add to skillet and sauté until just cooked through, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes.
Transfer fish to plates. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, garlic and thyme and cook until garlic is golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes.
Add lemon juice and simmer until liquid thickens slightly, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt. Spoon sauce, garlic and thyme over fish.
Sprinkle with chives and serve.
Serving suggestion - if you need to a vegeatable do it just don't tell me about it. I would think some baby red potatoes in a pan with salt and pepper, a nice green salad vinaigrette with an assortment of cheeses afterwards and for desert...where do I start?
Now about those wines...
How many times have I said "go global but drink local?" Let me count the ways. Here is a small selection to get you thinking. There are all fine little wines from the region and pair well with just about anything including your grandmother.
2010 Massamier la Mignarde, Cuvée des Oliviers Rosé, Coteaux de Peyriac. Medium-Full Bodied, Dry, Rose,Southern Rhône Blend. Serve this baby chilled.
2011 Domaine Belot, Merlot, Vin de Pays d'Oc. Medium Bodied, Dry, Red, Merlot. As they say, "drink now" and don't feel guilty that you are drinking red with fish. Be bold and take a stand while you can. Just keep an eye for the purists they are everywhere. 2010 Domaine des Terres Falmet, Cinsault. Medium Bodied, Dry, Red,Southern Rhône Blend. Ditto my previous commentss. 2011 Domaine de Coudoulet Viognier, Vin de Pays D'Oc. Medium Bodied, Dry, White,Viognier. I find a Viognior a pleasant and refreshing alternative in white wines. 2011 Domaine Mignan Grenache-Syrah, Vin de Pays D'Oc. Delicious blend of Grenache and Syrah. Juicy, crisp, rich and generous. Stand back!