Sea Bass and Artichoke Soup
Tender artichoke hearts and their stems are cooked with orange juice and chicken stock to create a soup which is served under golden brown fish slices. The dish is garnished with orange confit, glazed orange slices, and argan oil. Argan oil is a fragrant oil which comes from a spiny tree which grows in Morocco, and is used as a cooking oil in Moroccan cuisine. In addition to its fragrance, it is highly nutritious. Argan oil is available on the web from www.chefshop.chefshop.com.
- Orange Garnish
- Oranges - 2
- Water - 1/2 cup
- Sugar - 1/4 cup
- Artichoke Soup
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Baby violet - 16, or other artichokes
- Olive Oil - 1 tablespoon
- Unsalted Butter - 1 ounce (2 tablespoons)
- Fresh Orange Juice - 1 quart
- Chicken Stock - 2 to 3 cups
- Unsalted Butter - 2 tablespoons
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Fresh lemon juice - 4 to 6 drops
- Fresh coriander - 2 tablespoons, minced
- Olive Oil - 3 tablespoons
- Sea Bass Fillets - four, 8-ounce
- Fleur de sel
- Freshly ground pepper
- Several drops argan oil
To prepare the soup: Zest one orange, being careful not to pick up any of the bitter white with the zest. Slice the other orange into thin crosswise slices. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and add the orange zest; bring back to a boil, remove from heat, and strain out the zest, discarding the water. Repeat once. Put the zest, slices, water, and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and cook 1 hour. Drain the slices and set aside on parchment paper to dry.
Squeeze the lemon juice into a shallow pan or dish of cool water. Cut the leaves from the artichokes and trim the stems to a 2-inch length. Cut off the tops above the chokes and scrape out the chokes with a melon baller. Cut each heart and its attached stem in half lengthwise, then cut each section lengthwise into 3 even pieces. As you cut the artichokes, drop each finished piece into the lemon water to prevent browning.
Heat the olive oil and half of the butter in a large saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the artichokes, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until slightly softened but not colored, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the orange juice and 1/2 cup of the chicken stock, stirring up the bits from the bottom of the pan; add just enough to surround the artichoke slices, but do not cover the artichokes with cooking liquid. Let the liquid reduce, adding stock as necessary. If necessary, cook the artichokes in two pans or batches, dividing the orange juice and stock between the pans.
To prepare the fish: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Rub the fillets with olive oil. Heat a large heatproof non-stick saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bass fillets, skin-side down, and reduce the heat to medium; cook until the fish is golden on one side, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn over and place on a grill rack set in a pan. Place the pan in the oven for about 4 minutes to finish cooking the fish. Sprinkle the fish with a little fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper.
To serve: Add the butter to the soup and stir with a whisk until blended. Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and drops of lemon juice. Add the orange zest confit and the fresh coriander.
Divide the artichokes and soup among four warmed shallow soup plates. Place a bass fillet in each. Drizzle a spoonful of argan oil over each. Garnish each with a glazed orange slice.