Updated: Jul 24, 2022
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During Christmas my church has a Nativity Fast and there are very few specified days in which we may eat boned fish. Often, I take advantage of those fish days to make this recipe. It is a delicious healthy dish and pares well with rice, pasta or even eaten on its own. Whenever my husband sees me preparing white fish he automatically thinks about fish and chips, or baked fish swimming in butter with breadcrumbs on top.
This recipe is a nice alternative to those classics and is still very yummy which suits my husband’s American taste for sure! The basil and fennel seeds are a beautiful addition to the vegetable sauce. Herbs can make such a difference when it comes to building a complex flavor. Last year I brought this dish to the church for the Holy Supper and the people loved it leaving nothing leftover except an empty plate. It was a huge success to say the least! (Check out another favorite recipe that my picky husband loves eat: Whiskey-Marinated Salmon with Pistachio Crust. This is another great baked fish recipe that also pares well with rice or noodles.
What is great about this fish dish?
Even though I am using sea bass, you can make it with any white fish, i.e., Grouper, Cod,
Flounder, etc. It is perfect for picky fish eaters because it contain flavors reminiscent of Italian
food, like pizza or pesto sauce pasta! This dish is super easy to make and can be served as it is, or with a starch side dish! It is also a great year-round dish, and can be used as a family dinner night dish or for some special occasion. It is Grain-free and dairy-free but most importantly, its comfort food!
We have all heard the recommendation to eat more fish and seafood. I think we all should eat fish more often, and I'm a big lover of fish. Growing up I ate more fish than meat and this is probably the main reason why I love fish so much. My Dad used to eat freshwater fish so often, that my mom had to go to the market at least 3 times a week, so he could have fresh fish such as carp, pike, silver carp, and Lyn fish which are the most common fish from the region where I was raised.
But why should we eat more seafood?
Fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and assists in protecting the body against
inflammation, heart disease, high blood pressure, brain health, diabetes, digestive disorders, and even autoimmune disease. Omega-3 fatty acids and other long-chain fatty acids are well
documented for their health benefits. Most importantly, fish and all seafood are excellent sources of fat-soluble vitamins A and D. The term omega-3s most often refers to a group of fatty acids such as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) that are found in fish sources, verses ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) that is found in plant sources like nuts and seeds. There is evidence to suggest that the body can’t efficiently use ALA like it can DHA and EPA.
Unfortunately, for most Americans, fish dishes are considered restaurant food and the average American child doesn't prefer the taste. Based on extensive research by a Dr. Weston Price who traveled throughout the world and studied traditional peoples and their native diets, he discovered that those who ate seafood had the best health. Fish eaters had thicker bones and better skeletal structure.
How to buy fish?
Possibly it would surprise you to know how many people purchase frozen fish in a large
supermarket just for the grab and go convenience it provides. For myself, it is extremely rare that I purchase frozen fish since our family lives exceptional close the water. Not purchasing from a local source would be ridiculous. If I make a purchase that isn’t local fish, I typically avoid seafood products coming from third world countries. My seafood market place of choice in my town is called Sea Eagle Market . I always look carefully at the eyes of the fish, which should be clear, not glazed, and the gills should be red. I like to ask the fisherman what is the freshest fish on the display. If the fish are more than one day old, in sitting out on the display, I won’t buy it.
My family loves seafood, especially my youngest son. It is my desire to prepare the highest
quality of fish for my family and my friends. Therefore, there are other considerations when
purchasing fresh fish: Is it farm-raised or wild-caught fish.
Farm-Raised vs. Wild-Caught Fish
I always encourage people to buy wild-caught fish. Wild-caught fish not only provide us with healthy Omega - 3, but also is an excellent source of vitamin D, B6, B12, phosphorous, magnesium, selenium, niacin, and of course the good quality of protein. Farm-raised fish is not only bad for your health but also even worse; it is bad for our environment. Fish develop their omega-3 fatty acids due to their ability of have large amounts of movement. Due to their crowded surroundings and lack of mobility, farm- raised fish contain high amounts of omega-6 fats. When the omega-6 fat level in the diet is too high compared with the omega-3 level, enzymes involved in inflammation can be activated. Also, drugs are given to farmed-raised fish, which allow them to grow 6 times faster than normal fish. Farmed-raised fish are environmentally unfriendly. As a remedy to this problem, farmed-
raised fish farmers inject enormous amounts of antibiotics into the fish to offset the
bad bacteria. Keep in mind that when you are consuming farm-raised fish, there is the likelihood that you are consuming bad bacteria and injected antibiotics. The farm-raised fish farmers also treat their fish with pesticides, called PCB's to fight sea lice. PCB are cancer-causing pesticides that are particularly found in farmed-raised salmon, which are 16 times higher than wild-caught salmon.
If you are a big fan of fish or if not, the below recipe is excellent with fish but can be
used in numerous dishes.
Note on the Pesto Sauce
My family loves pesto sauce. And I always make my own and prepare it dairy-free if
I'm planning to freeze it. Every year when the basil season arrives, and it will be a long season here in SC, I stock my freezer with pesto sauce. We love to use it on pizza, homemade pasta, ravioli, chicken, fish, shrimp, etc. For this fish recipe, feel free to use any kind of pesto sauce you have on hand. The one I am sharing with you, I would recommend since it's made with real olive oil and doesn't contain any soy, or other harmful oils. Feel free to skip the cheese if you are planning to freeze the sauce. Then add cheese when you ready to serve the dish. Here is how much you will need:
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup Pecorino cheese, grated
Ingredients For the Dairy-Free Pesto
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups basil leaves
4 cloves garlic
Juice of one lemon
Directions for the pesto sauce
To make a sauce, add all ingredients to the blender and blend until all combines.
Let's do it...
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 20 -25 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Author: Inna of innichkachef.com
Served: 2 portions, or 4 appetizers. If you decide to serve with rice or pasta can be
easily feed 4 people.
Ingredients for the fish
2 sea bass files (about 2 pounds)
Ingredients for the sauce
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, chopped in halves
1 small red onion, chopped
5-7 cloves of garlic, minced
1 leek, chopped (white and light green parts only)
1 lemon (half for the sauce and half for the garnish)
3/4 cups of peas (I used frozen in the video)
1/2 cup of dairy-free pesto (I used homemade, see the notes above)
1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
1 cup parsley, chopped
3 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup white wine (I used Pino Grigio in the video)
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Wash and paper dry the fish. Season with salt and pepper on both sides of the filet. Set aside.
3. On medium heat place a stainless pan and add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, heat for a minute, and add 1 teaspoon of whole fennel seeds, steep for a minute or two, until aroma appeals, stir with a wooden spoon.
4. Add chopped red onion, salt, and black pepper. Cook for 2 minutes.
5. Add chopped leek, then jalapeno pepper, cook for another minute, add garlic and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.
6. Add sweet peas, then halves of cherry tomatoes, parsley, and stir.
7. Add wine and increase the heat, cook for a minute. Squeeze half of the lemon into the pan, add pesto, and stir.
7. Turn off the heat immediately.
8. Place half of the sauce mixture into the baking dish and place the fish filet on top of it. Spoon the rest of the mixture on top of the file. Cover with foil and place the
baking dish into the oven for 10 minutes.
9. Remove the foil and cook for another 5-7 minutes.
Garnish with sliced lemon and some parsley if you desire.