Sea Bass in Shredded Potato Skin

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From the Essential Pépin tv series, Episode 125: Ocean Options

Black fish, also called tautog, is readily available on the East Coast during summer. Whitefleshed, firm, and juicy, this is one of the best fish around. You can substitute sea bass, halibut, swordfish, or even Arctic char. These fillets are cooked in a shredded potato crust. The crisp crust keeps the fish juicy and provides a nice balance to the tender flesh. Use large baking potatoes. Peel them (although they can be left unpeeled, if you prefer) and wash them, then shred them against the side of a box grater with the largest holes. At this point, the potatoes should be used immediately or kept in water to cover until ready to cook.—Jacques Pépin

Serves 4

2 large baking potatoes (1 pound total)
1/2 medium leek, trimmed (leaving some green), split, washed, and finely chopped (1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon safflower or peanut oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 skinless black fish (sea bass) fillets (about 6 ounces each)

Peel the potatoes (or leave them unpeeled, if desired) and wash them. Shred the potatoes on the large holes of a box grater. (You should have about 2 1/2 cups.) Drain well in a colander, then combine in a bowl with the leek and mix well.


Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet, preferably nonstick. Meanwhile, sprinkle half the salt on the fillets. When the oil and butter are hot, spoon 4 small, evenly spaced mounds of the shredded potatoes and leek (each about 1/3 cup) into the skillet. Press a portion of fish into each mound and cover the fish with the remaining potatoes. Sprinkle with the remaining salt. Cook the potato packages over medium-high heat for 6 to 7 minutes. Turn them carefully with a large spatula and cook them for 6 to 7 minutes on the other side. The potatoes should be nicely crusted on both sides and the fish just cooked. Serve.

Copyright © 2011 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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