Social Sundays is here again, and I just can’t wait for you to cook up this menu! If you haven’t prepared a whole fish before, this is the perfect week for you. I fell in love with fried whole fish at The Wilshire in Los Angeles several years ago, where former chef Andrew Kirschner (now at Tar & Roses & Santa Monica Yacht Club), created this delicately crispy – not-greasy, whole snapper. Not only were the Asian flavors off-the-charts good, but it was fun to fork the tender meat right off the bones. My recipe for Wok-Seared Whole Sea Bass is not deep fried, but lightly pan seared on both sides, for the same crunch, but cooked with a lot less oil.
I use a whole Branzino or Mediterranean Sea Bass, which you can purchase at most farmer’s markets, fish stores, or sometimes at Costco or big box stores. This fish is naturally flaky and easy to prepare – just add a light dusting of flour and sear for a few minutes on each side. The sea bass comes out restaurant style — deep golden brown with super fresh flavor. The dipping sauce is my own simple creation of soy, Serrano Chile, garlic and a little sesame oil, which is great for dipping, and seasoning the Ginger Broccoli & Soba Noodles.
The side dish this week is Ginger Broccoli & Soba Noodles, which you prepare in the same pan after the fish is done. The noodles are mostly made of buckwheat, so they are almost gluten-free, for those of you with sensitive tummies, but I just love to cook with Soba Noodles for the fragrant slightly earthy tones.
The dessert this week is Coconut Almond Rice Pudding — a spoonful of comfort in every bite. The flavors are slightly tropical, with a coco-nutty crunch that will keep you coming back for more. We will prepare the rice pudding ahead, so it has time to chill a few hours before dinner. I think you are going to enjoy the process of preparing this weeks Social Sundays Menu – so, let’s get started!
Coconut Almond Rice Pudding
4 cups whole milk
1 cup Arborio Rice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
pinch of salt
1 cup light coconut milk
1/3 cup sliced blanched almonds
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
(Makes 5-6 Servings)
1. In a large saucepan, add the milk, rice, sugar, almond extract and salt. Stir slowly over medium-low heat for 30 minutes, or until the milk has reduced and the rice is fork tender.
2. Pour in the coconut milk and continue cooking for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep the rice at a low boil, so it doesn’t burn. Remove the pudding from heat and stir, let rest in the pan for 5 minutes.
3. In a saute pan, toast the almonds and coconut over low heat until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Spoon the Coconut Almond Rice Pudding into serving bowls and top with toasted coconut almonds. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours. Enjoy!
Wok Seared Whole Sea Bass with Ginger Broccoli
1-2 whole Sea Bass, cleaned
2 tablespoons flour, I like Wondra for dusting on fish
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 Serrano Chile, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
1 teaspoon grated ginger
Broccoli & Soba Noodles
4 ounces Soba Noodles
1/2 head broccoli
1/2 lime, sliced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 sprigs fresh basil
1. Boil the Soba Noodles for 6 minutes in salted boiling water, drain and set aside. In a bowl, add all of the Dipping Sauce ingredients and stir, set aside.
2. Sprinkle the fish with flour. Add 1/4 cup of oil to a wok or large skillet, place over medium-high heat. Add the fish and cook on the first side for 4 minutes. If the fish is getting too dark, turn the heat down. Flip over and cook the other side for 3 minutes, cover the pan with a lid and turn the heat to low, continue to cook for 3 minutes.
3. While the fish is finishing cooking, slice the broccoli into large florets and prepare the ginger and garlic. Remove the fish from the pan, dump out the oil, and add 2 teaspoons of fresh oil. Place pan over medium heat, add broccoli and 3 lime slices, stir fry for 3 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic, saute for 1 minute. Pour in the cooked Soba Noodles and toss. Add 3 tablespoons of Dipping Sauce to the Soba Noodles and toss again, cook for 2 minutes, while continuing to stir.
4. Place the Broccoli & Soba Noodles on a serving platter and put the fish on top. Sprinkle with fresh basil and lime slices. Serve immediately with the Dipping Sauce, Enjoy!