recipes + photography BILLY DOUKAS

Black sea bass.


Striped sea bass.

Grilled Whole Sea Bass

Sea bass caught in the Gulf of Maine has a mild, sweet flavor with a buttery, moist texture. This somewhat delicate fish presents beautifully on a platter in a formal setting or on a picnic table! Fresh Black Sea Bass or Atlantic Striped Bass are ideal for this recipe. Cooking on an outdoor grill is a perfect way to keep the house cool while enjoying the summer air and sunshine.

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 45 minutes

2 (1½-pound) sea bass,* scaled, gutted and left whole
Canola oil spray

4 tablespoons sesame seed oil
3 tablespoons lime juice, divided
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon oregano
1 (8-ounce) package pickled ginger**
1 tablespoon concentrated tomato paste
1 teaspoon concentrated anchovy paste
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

* Available at Harbor Fish Market, Portland.
** Available at Asian food markets or Browne Trading Co., Portland.

Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl. Mix gently to create a thick marinade. Set aside.

Rinse fish and pat dry. Cut 3 diagonal slits the width of fish, ½ inch deep, on each side. Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon salt into each slit. Brush the marinade over the entire surface and pack the rest in the fish cavity, reserving ½ cup of marinade for brushing during grilling. Using the back of a small knife, fold the pickled ginger pieces into the diagonal slits.

Helpful tools for grilling
A grill mat is recommended to optimize your grilling surface and make cleanup a breeze.

I prefer to use a silicone mat seasoned with oil spray, which helps preserve the fish skin. A flexible metal, slim, blade-like edged spatula works great to keep the fish intact. A medium-size fish filet knife is best to make initial slits as well as final serving cuts.

Grill prep
Preheat grill temperature between 400° and 425°F with the cover down.

Lift the grill cover, place the silicone mat down and spray with canola oil. Once the mat is heated, place fish on the surface. Close the cover and grill the first side for 6 minutes. (Throughout cooking, keep the grill temperature from reaching a maximum of 450° by lifting the cover if necessary.) Carefully flip the fish, brush with marinade and close the cover.

Cook the second side for 4–6 minutes. Check to see if the fish is done: Use a knife point to pry open the thickest portion slightly. Once the flesh has a white color, it’s cooked! Gently remove the fish from heat onto a platter. Immediately drizzle with lime juice.

Serving whole fish
Using a sharp narrow knife, start slightly above the dorsal fin to cut down along the spine of the body. Make a small cut just behind the head and just in front of the tail and insert a thin spatula between the flesh and bone. Lift the released top filet onto a dish and serve. Using snips or scissors, snip the spine at the head and the tail, and lift the central skeleton (discard or save for boiling into a broth). Serve bottom filet.

My choice for pairings
Prime, a hazy IPA with citrus notes, brewed at Goodfire Brewing Co., Portland ($16/4 pack).

Oh-J Craft Seltzer, brewed with tangerine-pure citrus punch with a subtle amount of hops, from Lone Pine Brewing Co., Portland ($15/4 pack).

An oakless Chardonnay, such as Novellum from France ($15).

A muscadet, such as Château de la Ragotière, from France ($13).

A dry white Riesling such as F.E. Trimbach a Ribeauville, ($23).

. . .

Salmon Chowder

This chowder recipe has become my favorite as it is quick and easy to make, has superb health benefits and is economical. Made with cauliflower and kale, this salmon chowder is light in texture and low in carbohydrates, while the oily fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and protein. No wonder salmon is the third-most-consumed seafood product in the U.S. over much of the past decade!


Yield: 12 servings
Time: 75 minutes

4 shallots, minced
4 large celery stalks, chopped fine
2 large carrots, peeled and shredded
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (preferably use oil that has a harvest date on the bottle)
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) salted butter
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
4 tablespoons tarragon, fresh or dried
4 teaspoons dill weed, fresh or dried
2 tablespoons tomato paste, double concentrated (tube)
1 tablespoon anchovy paste (tube)
3 cups fresh cauliflower, approximately ½ head, chopped medium
16 ounces heavy cream (or 16-ounce can of full-fat coconut milk as non-dairy alternative)
1½ pounds fresh salmon fillet, with or without skin
5 ounces fresh baby kale, trim larger stems if desired

2 to 4 ounces roux (see roux prep below)
4 ounces salted butter
About 1 cup flour

48 ounces seafood broth
Use high-quality bottled broth like Zoup or make your own—see prep below
2 quarts boiling water
6 lobster bodies
4 tablespoons tomato paste, double concentrated (tube)
1 large fish tail and head
2 tablespoons anchovy-based fish oil

Roux prep
In a small saucepan, melt 4 ounces of butter on low heat whisking in flour until roux begins to thicken to the consistency of smooth mashed potato. Remove from heat and set aside.

Seafood broth prep (homemade)
6 lobster bodies*
1 large fish tail and head*
2 tablespoons anchovy-based fish oil
6 tablespoons tomato paste, double concentrated (tube)
2 quarts boiling water

*Ask your fish market for cooked lobster bodies, fish tail and heads.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange lobster bodies on large cooking tray and “glob” tomato paste over shells and bake for 30 minutes. Add baked bodies, fish tail & head and anchovy-based fish oil to 2 quarts boiling water. Cover and simmer for several hours or even an entire day. Boil down to about 1½ quarts, adding water when necessary. Cool and strain with fine mesh or cheesecloth and set aside.

NOTE: Seafood broth can be prepared several hours ahead, preferably the previous day. This broth recipe can be frozen for future use—I recommend doubling or tripling the batch!

Salmon Chowder prep
Gently heat butter and olive oil in 4- or 6-quart stockpot and add shallots, celery and carrot. After 10 minutes on low heat, which will soften the vegetables, add salt, pepper, tarragon and dill weed; sauté another 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste; add seafood broth, increasing to a medium heat.

After broth mixture has reached temperature, add the cauliflower and cook another 5 minutes.

Stir in heavy cream (or coconut milk) and allow to return to temperature. Taste-test and increase salt and pepper as needed. Whisk in 2 ounces of the prepared roux and heat for 5 minutes, allowing the mixture to thicken. If a thicker consistency is desired, add additional roux, 1 ounce at a time, and heat another 5 minutes while gently mixing. When satisfied with consistency, place the salmon fillets into the stockpot, skin side up, and simmer on a medium-low heat for 7 to 10 minutes.

Using a large fork to brace underneath the fillet, lift it just above the surface and carefully peel off the skin with tongs; discard skin.

Lower the heat to a simmer, place the kale in the mixture and gently stir. Cook for another 15 minutes, occasionally using a ladle in a slow stirring motion to break up the salmon fillet and create a uniform chowder ready for serving.

Salmon chowder works well with blunt, straightforward wines including reds, rosés, whites and sparkling wines.

A very good choice is a dry white Riesling such as F.E. Trimbach Ribeauville, a true king of Alsace wines ($23). An oakless Chardonnay, such as Novellum from France, is an excellent pairing ($15). Zuccardi Q, an Argentinian Malbec, with dark plum, blackberries and spicy notes, works very well ($17).

Generally, I find that beer does not go well with dairy, however, a dark stout, such as Black from Allagash Brewing Company in Portland, with hints of tobacco and chocolate, would be my choice ($12/4 pack).

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