Saturday, February 23, 2013

Chilean Sea Bass from the Miller's Wife (Spigola Alla Mugnaia)

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"Mugnaia" is one of those Italian cooking terms that has a real meaning.  In less enlightened times it meant a wife of a miller.  It has evolved into meaning either wife of or a female - miller.  There is a light dusting of flour on the fish, plus a small amount to thicken the wine/lemon sauce.  Other than that, not sure why the credit (and name) goes to the wife, but richly deserved.

This dish was last night's offering to my wife's observance of Lent.  Fish on Friday's for the next 40 days, so Fish Recipe Posts on Saturdays for the same time.

The fish is deliciously delicately braised in a white wine lemon sauce, sauce later thickened slightly for the complimentary sauce.

My side dish of choice was an amazing Fennel gratin (next post).  Note to self, must cook with more fennel... but I digress.

The fish is fantastic...

A few days ago I reviewed a Freebie sent to me by the Certified Steak and Seafood Company.  They were nice enough to send me a set of beautiful Filet Mignon Steaks that I Pan Seared and LOVED!  Well, in the same bundle they also sent me a couple of wonderful Chilean Sea Bass steaks to review.  Like the steaks, the Wild Caught Sea Bass was free.  What follows is my opinion, mine and mine alone.

I have already written a review and recipe for "Chilean Sea Bass wrapped in a Cashew Nut Crust".

First, a word about sea bass... Sea bass is my wife's very favorite piece of fish.  It is also among the most endangered species of popular fish.  Back in the 90's, every restaurant was offering this and the fish were nearly harvested out of existence.  Many terrible fishing practices led to the depletion of the oceans, but among the worst were unlicensed net fishers and several mile long hook lines that not only caught the bass, but anything else that swam by.

Rightfully so, Sea Bass has all but disappeared from restaurant menus.  Activists and government agencies agree that careful monitoring of fishing techniques, quantities and licensing is the only way to recover the population.

When I saw the Bass, I was concerned.  I am an old Hippie that would never consider buying Sea Bass without safeguards that make the fish too expensive to be offered by most restaurants and very very few fishmongers.

Well, before agreeing to write a review, I did a little research on the Certified Steak and Seafood Company and their policies...
Chilean Sea Bass now comes to your table courtesy Certified Steak and Seafood. Harvested and processed under close inspection of the National Marine Fishery Service

Click the jpg of their logo above to read the details about the government monitoring agency that certifies the seafood sold by Certified Steak and Seafood Company does in fact meet the strict guidelines making sale  of the species proper, safe and sold with an eye on conservation and the eventual full recovery of the species. They are able to verify that their sea food was legally caught with management provisions.  It is estimated that only about 15-20% of the 10,000 tons of sea bass sold worldwide meets these standards.

All of that is a long winded explanation that even an old hippie can buy wild caught sea bass from Certified Steak and Seafood Company and not feel guilty!

And that means an old hippie like me can make my wife happy!

OK... Here's what I did...

Chilean Sea Bass from the Miller's Wife 
(Spigola Alla Mugnaia)

  • 2 Large 8 OZ Chilean Sea Bass filets
  • Salt and Pepper for seasoning
  • Dusting of Flour for the fish as well as to thicken the sauce
  • 1/4 Cup White Wine
  • Zest and Juice of one fresh Lemon
  • 1 TBS Butter
  • 6 small Sage Leaves, sliced into ribbons, divided, half used while cooking, half used to garnish
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees...My fillets were tall and thick and easily fit into a small oven safe saute pan. If yours are thinner and wider, you may need a larger pan and additional amounts of braising liquids.
  2. First, dry the fillets with a paper towel. then season the fillet with salt and pepper and allow this to rest for a couple of minutes.
  3. While the fish is resting, in an oven safe saute pan, over low to medium heat, heat the wine and lemon juice while whisking to combine.
  4. Add the butter and continue to stir until fully melted and mixed
  5. Add half of the sage leaves
  6. Dust each side of the sea bass with flour and carefully rest the fillets into the sauce.
  7. Heat for 5 minutes, then carefully flip the fish over and heat for another 5 minutes.
  8. Check the internal temperature. the proper temperature is 135 degrees. DO NOT OVER COOK. If additional cooking is needed (generally, 10 minutes per inch of thickness), move to a preheated oven. Check temperature every 5 minutes.
  9. Allow the fish to rest for 5 minutes on a cutting board before serving, which gives you time to thicken the sauce.
  10. In the same pan you used to cook the fish, move the pan to the stovetop, over medium heat, add 1/2 tsp of flour to the braising liquid and stir to combine. It will take a couple of minutes, but the sauce will begin to thicken.
  11. Plate the fish, top with a couple of TBS of sauce and the remaining sage leaves.
  12. Serve HOT and ENJOY!


So,  I am pleased to list this as one of my Growing list of  "52 Authentic Italian Recipes"!!!

Well over 52 recipes actually as I just can't stop. The world's most popular cuisine, authentic, natural, organic, Farm to Table... the Italians started, perfected or embraced it before it became a fad. This page is a guide to Italian Cooking... For the home cook!  So, Cin Cin (toast) and Buon Appetito (Enjoy your Meal) to you all and let's Cook authentic Italian!


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1 comment:

  1. Saw this on Pinterest and repinned. Thanks for sharing!