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Black Sea Bass with Summer Squash Polenta
“In this healthy seared fish recipe, salting the fish's skin draws out the moisture, which helps it get nice and crispy in the hot pan. Here, black sea bass is served on top of polenta that's enriched with a buttery summer squash puree. Garnish with lemon wedges, if desired.
1 pound yellow summer squash
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup finely chopped shallots
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Ground pepper to taste
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup water
½ cup instant polenta
1 tablespoon butter
1¼ pounds skin-on black sea bass or striped bass, scales removed
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
1 cup pea greens or pea sprouts
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon fennel pollen or ¼ teaspoon ground fennel seed
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
1To prepare squash: Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out any seeds. Place cut-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool slightly and remove the skin. Transfer the flesh to a food processor and puree until smooth.
2To season fish: Cut fish into 4 portions. Score the skin with diagonal cuts every ½ inch or so, slicing the skin but not the flesh beneath. Season the skin side with 1 tablespoon salt. Place skin-side down on a plate lined with paper towels and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Rinse the fish with cold water and pat dry. Return to the refrigerator until ready to cook.
3To prepare polenta: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots; cook, stirring often, until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and pepper. Add milk and water; bring to a simmer. Whisking constantly, add polenta in a slow, steady stream. Reduce heat to low; cook, whisking, until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in butter and the squash puree. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm.
4To prepare fish: Heat grapeseed oil in a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Season the fish with pepper. Cook, skin-side down and undisturbed, until the skin is crispy (lift the edges with a fish spatula to check), about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Immediately turn the fish over and leave in the hot pan to finish cooking, 3 minutes more.
5To prepare greens: Gently toss pea greens (or sprouts) in a bowl with lemon juice, olive oil, fennel pollen (or ground fennel), chives and salt.
6To serve, divide the polenta among 4 large plates, top with a piece of fish, skin-side up, and garnish with the greens.