Rush Hour

My husband's birthday falls at the end of August. I usually ask him what he wants for dinner and we either go out or I make dinner. This year, his request was vague and simple, "Fish." I love those kinds of requests because they give me a chance to play in the kitchen and come up with something fun. Given the generous pile of vegetables I have this time of the year, it seemed a perfect opportunity to use them. I'm also a big fan of putting together meals that are meant to be enjoyed together. Each layer brings something special to the mix. In this instance, the salsa brings the heat, the fish brings a savory, intense element and the rice and beans round out the meal and add a saltiness that appeals.

The verdict? "I really liked the 3-layered approach: flake apart the fish on top of a bed of rice and cover it with the salsa. Gives a nice stratification of flavors and textures." The short version of that is ... it was a happy birthday! If you don't want to spring for striped bass, any firm fleshed white fish will do. However, to make it a special occasion meal, consider striped bass as an option. I sprinkled a little crumbled goat cheese over the rice and beans to give a tangy, creamy element to the dish. Add a glass of chilled wine or your favorite cocktail and you've got an elegant dinner to enjoy!

As always, I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at . Enjoy!

Southwestern Striped Bass with Fresh Salsa

  • 3 tomatillos -- diced
  • 1 c. cherry tomatoes -- halved
  • 1/2 banana pepper -- diced
  • 1 clove garlic -- minced
  • 1/4 c. sliced green onions
  • 1/2 tsp. chili oil
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. southwestern seasoning
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 lb. striped bass -- cut into 2 fillets
  • 1 clove garlic -- minced
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. rice vinegar

In a small bowl, combine the first nine ingredients (tomatillos through salt). Mix and let rest.

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a small skillet. Add the striped bass, skin side up, and allow to cook for 3 minutes or until the fish is browned. Carefully flip the fish, season with the garlic, pepper, paprika and salt and lower the heat to medium. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and rice vinegar, reduce the heat to low and cook an additional 5 minutes. Serve the fish over rice and beans and top with the prepared salsa.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes