I don’t want to jinx anything, but life in Paris seems to be slowly getting back to normal. Although our work lives have not been compromised and we are busier than ever, our social lives have taken a back seat and dining out has been almost ruled out. At most, we’ll look for a bit of sun in an outdoor café or to huddle under the outdoor heaters for a quick glass of bubbles. Or, of course, we’ll cook our own meal after shopping at an outdoor market.
I’m grateful to be in a city that worships fresh food and it’s been a wonderful experience to explore new markets that we might have skipped over in the past. My new favorite is the Saxe Breteuil market that runs along a sweeping boulevard, anchored by Louis Pasteur on one end and the Ecole Militaire, the Champs de Mars and the Eiffel tower on the other. Talk about a scenic location!
Today, I was looking for ingredients to make my favorite new dish: Sea bass roasted with preserved lemons, capers, olives, shallots and lemon juice. (Yes, I like salt and, to the horror of French restaurateurs, ask for salt even with my dessert!) I’ll post the recipe in our blog, although don’t hold me to it! I’ve made it up along the way – but I do think it’s fool proof, and yummy.
This market is a gourmand’s dream, with vegetables you’ve never heard of, cheeses of every kind, fruits in season, fish you didn’t know existed, shellfish, mollusks, fowl, beef, sausages stuffed with every imaginable filling, pasta, nuts, sweets, breads and yes, sweetbreads, desserts and so much more. Everything is fresh and the worst possible thing to do is go hungry because you’ll never be able to carry it all home!
I’m thrilled that restaurants seem to be thriving again, and not just along the sidewalk cafes. There is definitely a sense of optimism out there that life is slowly getting back to normal. But for me, I’ll always be grateful for this time that gave us the opportunity to cook more, enjoy fresh ingredients and even experiment along the way to allow for happy accidents, like sea bass with preserved lemons!
Check out the recipe at the end of this post.
Ann’s Sea Bass with Preserved Lemons
A word of caution: I made this recipe up so don’t hold me to it. But I do know that the ingredients are a great combo … and you really can’t go wrong.
1 lb sea bass fillet
1 large whole preserved lemons, cut into small pieces,
2 Tbs preserved lemon juice (which is basically just salt. Yummy!)
2 Tbs capers
2 Tbs minced shallots
1 Tbs olive oil
¼ tsp Cayenne pepper
And salt (of course!)
Directions: Turn oven to 400 degrees. Lay the sea bass skin down in a buttered baking dish. In a separate bowl, mix the lemons, lemon juice, capers, shallots, olive oil, salt and cayenne pepper. Spread the lemon mix over the sea bass and bake for 10 minutes, until the sea base is firm but not dry.
I like to serve this with lentils (salted, with garlic) and baked cherry tomatoes. I’ll cook the lentils separately and make a big batch. Then I’ll throw them in the oven along with the cherry tomatoes, sprinkled with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme, and bake along with the sea bass. If the tomatoes are just barely cooked, they’ll be juicy and delish. The lentils will get almost crispy on the outside and tender inside. They make a great accompaniment to the lemony flavor of the sea bass.