Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Walk To Remember: Baked Sea Bass and Avocado-Orange Salad

If you've been reading this blog regularly, you know that it's all about cooking the meals that Nick's characters prepare together (or for each other). Since no one cooks in A Walk to Remember, and I don't want to skip any books (except maybe Three Weeks With My Brother, we'll see), I changed my focus a little bit and found things that Landon, Jamie, and their friends enjoy in other places--a restaurant, a diner, a party, on Jamie's front porch. Until now I've managed to skip these types things, but I'm willing to bend my own rules just a little bit from time to time.

Jamie and Landon are teenagers in 1950s North Carolina. (For a brief summary, read Quick Take #6 here.) On New Years' Eve, Landon takes Jamie to Morehead City for dinner at a swanky eatery there. (That must be a happening place, Morehead City; lots of Nick's characters go there when they're looking for a night on the town. My parents took me there on our first trip to the beach when I was five; the only thing I remember about it is swimming in the motel kiddie pool.) Landon and Jamie both order the same thing: sea bass and salad.

I've never cooked sea bass before, and I don't really know if I've ever even eaten it. I wanted to find a recipe that would be both delicious and simple to make:


Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Cajun/Creole seasoning
Chilean sea bass fillets (4)

Begin by heating the oven to 425° F. Then use some olive oil to oil a baking pan and place the Sea Bass in the pan. Sprinkle the fish with some seasonings on both sides.

Bake it at 425° F for around 20 minutes. You can adjust the time needed for the baking process as per the thickness of the fish. While serving, use some Salsa or an interesting sauce of your choice. (source)

After the fish was cooked, we cut the filets into smaller pieces to make appetizer-sized portions.

I put my mother in charge of cooking the sauce:

Seafood sauce

1/2 c. unsalted butter
1 tsp. sage
1/4 tsp. cumin, rosemary, onion powder, thyme
1/2 tsp. white pepper
3/4 c. half and half milk or cream
3/4 c. white wine or Chardonnay
Dash of Cajun seasoning

Melt butter in skillet and add seasonings, stir constantly and blend over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Add half and half continue stirring and heat slowly until bubbly as you slowly increase heat (5 to 10 minutes). Add a dash of Cajun seasoning and wine stir until well blended and smooth and thick texture (2 to 3 minutes). Do not overcook. (source) The sea bass was delicious, and the sauce went well with it, even though it's designed to serve over catfish.

For the salad, I asked my mother for suggestions. We chose a green salad that she makes from time to time. There's no recipe, really, but I'll write it down here for you:

A head of Green Leaf Lettuce
One bunch of green onions, washed and chopped
Mandarin oranges, drained
Pecan or walnut halves (carmelized or plain)
Italian viniagrette dressing (click here for the recipe I used for this)

About two or three hours before serving, wash and tear the lettuce and chop the green onion. Mix the onion with the lettuce and let it sit for a couple of hours. Right before serving, add the dressing, avocado slices, mandarin oranges and nuts. My mother suggested carmelizing the nuts because doing so made the salad oh-so-much better. I did this a couple of days ahead of time--I just mixed sugar and cinnamon and heated it in a skillet with melted butter and the nuts. Mine were funny-looking, kind of like nuts with a grainy sweet-tasting substance all over them. They were still delicious, and made a great topping for Mom's salad (click here for the easy-peasy recipe and a photo of what they're supposed to look like). I should call them "crystallized" pecans since the sugar never dissolved completely. When we arrived at my friend's house for the party, my mother put their teenage daughter to work helping her put the salad together. Mmmm....I had two helpings of this! (I don't see any mandarin oranges, do you? They're in there...) Their New Year's date isn't the only time Landon and Jamie eat and drink together, and I decided to fix a few more things as well. Guess what? I'm going to make you wait until next time to find out what they are. I don't want to make this post too long, after all.

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