I dabbled in cooking during the pandemic and sure some dishes I made were somewhat difficult, but these were generally made following a recipe I found online. At that time my daughter was only one years old so naturally she started table sharing right around the time the pandemic started, which made me weary of deliveries or others cooking for my kid, including domestic staff. This led me as well as many others to start experimenting in the kitchen, not just for the simple reason of being bored at home, but also because I wanted to ensure a nice healthy virus free meal for my child. Back then it had just emerged, so none of us were sure whether one could catch covid through food or not.
This culinary experience on my part lasted months, in fact I started making complex recipes including braised lamb shanks and ribs in balsamic cherry conserve, as well as large varieties of desserts including the famous tiramisu, New York baked cheesecake, lemon squares, and many others. I even went as far as making my own pepper sauce for one of my dishes to make sure it was completely homemade. Nevertheless, no matter how successful my ‘recipe followed’ dishes were, they were never my own. I once even said that one must either be unable to read or follow exact instructions in order to not be able to produce at least one decent meal.
Now creating a whole new recipe from scratch on the other hand – and I don’t mean improvising on basic dishes with spices, I mean an actual fine dining dish – is another story. Nonetheless, I have decided to give it a go. Here is my Michelin worthy… or not, dish.
First, I had to decide on the protein I want to build my dish around. Because of the amount of meat and poultry consumed during the holidays January calls for fish. Since seabass is a favorite of mine, it was a no brainer. So here is my protein:
This may not be the professional way of doing things but hey, I am not a chef either. But following the advice from Simone Martinelli I decided to imagine my dish first. For whatever reason I envisioned an orange sauce or dressing on it. So naturally I decided that my fish will be dressed with orange sauce. So, ladies and gents:
Obviously, it would have to be thick to avoid a runny plate and to dress the dish well, so I assumed I would need to add something to the freshly squeezed orange juice. I don’t like the idea of gelatin and am not a big fan of chia seeds. So, this is how my next ingredient emerged.
Flour. (or sugar, let’s see how this goes… or maybe both lol!)
I most definitely saw something green on this plate, my first go-to was asparagus, but considering an asparagus with a tangy orange dressing could taste a little stranger than I would want, I decided to go with French beans. Besides the fact that I love them, they work well with sweet flavors. Well, welcome to the plate.
Of course, none of this will be a true main course dish without the addition of some carbohydrates. I love potatoes, sweet potatoes, pasta and various whole grains, but the dish already seemed quite clean (back to my first point and choice of protein), just after the holiday season something on the healthier side seems like the more appropriate choice. Of course, it also needs to blend well with orange, so buckwheat crossed my mind briefly as it goes well with orange before I realized it is better suited to poultry, and then I had an enlightening:
This was not enough. I knew that this dish is missing something and that something is puree. It had to be orange. Sweet potato? Hmm, visually it would be pleasing of course, but in terms of cuisine, in terms of taste… it would likely be a disaster for my dish. So, what other ingredient could give me the desired outcome on a plate yet taste complimentary to my dish?
Ding ding ding – Carrots.
Once I had my main ingredients, I decided it was time to sketch the dish. Possibly this is a repetitive and boring way to plate it but again… I am not a chef. If only for the day. I envisioned it layered – the seabass fillet atop the round shaped quinoa, with the French beans leaning on the stack covered in the orange dressing with two slices of tangerine on top of the seabass fillet, and the carrot puree beautifully smeared on the side of the plate, while the orange jam (a late but oh so important addition) sat beautifully at the bottom of the quinoa stack.
In my vision the seabass had crispy corners, which of course means, the fish had to be grilled. I love a nice crispy sea bass. That takes about 10-12 minutes on the grill regime of my oven – I remember from lockdown days. So, I would start by making the sauce, whether this is the way to do it or not I am not sure but, here we go:
First, I prepared my ingredients. Juiced the oranges. Cleaned and prepared the desired amount of seabass fillet – 200g in this case, washed and prepared the beans.
I decided I should start by cooking the quinoa and setting it aside. At first, I thought I would steam the beans, but I prefer them grilled – my oven was pre-set to 170, I sprinkled some olive oil and salt over the French beans and sent them cooking. My second oven was pre-set to 250degrees for my seabass, which I started preparing in order to send it into the oven. I rubbed my fillet with a teaspoon of olive oil sprinkled some salt and pepper, and of it went into the grill.
Meanwhile, the oranges I squeezed into juice, were simmering in a saucepan seasoned with salt, pepper and chili flakes, after a while I started adding flour to thicken the juice. I’m not sure whether professional chefs reading this are laughing their asses off or not, lol. The orange jam was also well on its way, so it seemed my dish was golden. While all the main ingredients were being prepared, I added the quinoa into the orange sauce and reduced the heat.
My sauce was perfectly blended with the quinoa, my seabass was gold and crusty, the beans slightly blackened from the roast, and the homemade orange jam was sweet – I peeled the two slices of a tangerine and I was ready to plate.
First, I smeared my carrot puree, I put my orange quinoa into the round food molder in the center of the plate, flattened it with a spoon and carefully took it out to achieve the desired shape… On top of it I placed my grilled seabass fillet, added the French beans on the side and of course the two teaspoons of jam were added to the bottom of the stack. Finally, I placed the two slices of tangerine on top of the seabass, et voila! Here is my Michelin worthy dish. Or was it?? Now, it is time to taste – watch our video below to find out!
Full list of ingredients:
200g seabass fillet
5 large oranges
150g French beans
2 tablespoons of flour
½ tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of sugar
- Prepare the ingredients: boil the French beans, cook the quinoa, and wash the fish, juice 3 oranges.
- Cut the other 2 oranges and add them to a pot, once cooked enough to release juice add the sugar and leave it on medium heat.
- Meanwhile make the sauce by adding the freshly squeezed orange juice to a hot pot, melt the butter and mix flour into it and add into the orange juice, after add the salt and pepper to taste and the teaspoon of chili, whisk the mixture over medium heat, once the sauce starts thickening reduce the heat and let it simmer.
- Add the carrots into a pot of boiling water. It should take 15-20 minutes to soften enough to be blended.
- Grease your oven tray with some olive oil, arrange the beans and send them into the oven for 15minutes
- Grease your second tray for the seabass, put the fillet on top rub salt, pepper and oil into it, and send it into the grill (pre-heated to 250 degrees) for 12 minutes.
- Meanwhile add the cooked quinoa into the thickened orange sauce
- While the quinoa is soaking in the sauce, puree the carrots by adding them with a few spoons of the water they were cooked into a blender and pulse (not too much so the puree doesn’t become too watery)
- The jam is now ready, so are the rest of the ingredients. and it is time to plate.
(DURING THE COOKING PROCESS STIR THE JAM EVERY NOW AND THEN)
- Put the molder in the middle of the plate and place the quinoa inside it.
- Smear the carrot puree on two sides of the molder and take it out carefully so the quinoa stays in place.
- Half the grilled seabass fillet and place it on top of the quinoa stack.
- Using the tongs place the French beans on the plate (leaning on the stack on either side)
- Add 2 teaspoons of the homemade jam on the side of the stack and finish off by adding the tangerine slices on top.