This is a wonderful, quick to make recipe thanks to the ready-diced chorizo and the frozen blocks of spinach. It makes a good lunch, but it’s also smart enough for an impromptu supper. It’s a stand-alone dish – no need for any additional sides.
And for all those reasons, plus the fact that it is quite light on the tummy in preparation for the culinary onslaught to come, it is a perfect Christmas Eve recipe. If you are catering for the hordes, held up by traffic, delays…or Christmas parties, the butter bean bed can be kept ready for heating through at the last minute, and the fish fillets take only a few minutes to fry.
I keep a bag of frozen blocks of spinach (they’re small blocks) in my freezer and use them for all kinds of things – add to soups and stews to thicken and add flavour, make a quick, individual egg florentine…. or as in this recipe. The best I have found are the Duchy organic brand (Waitrose and Ocado supply them) as the flavour is authentic and the leaves unfurl, more or less intact, so you can fool your guests that you have used fresh!
You could double the recipe to make it for four. If you want you can cook the butter bean bed ahead of time, then warm through in the frying pan. Take out, keep warm, and you will have room to fry your four sea bass fillets.
A rather nice wine to drink with this is a pinot grigio ramato which will echo the rosé vermouth you’ve used in the cooking rather nicely. This is a swaggering copper-coloured rosé, with sufficient heft to deal with the cheerful chorizo, available in the UK from Liberty Wines.
For another recipe using butter beans see Smoking Gentle Giant Beans with Cheese And Spinach.
Recipe for Sea Bass Fillets on a bed of Chorizo and Giant Butter Beans, deglazed with Vermouth
Serves 2 (you can double the recipe and make it for four – see above – but this recipe is not suitable for larger numbers)
- 2 sea bass fillets – about 180g/6 oz
- 60g/2 oz diced chorizo
- 8 cherry tomatoes
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 fat clove of garlic crushed with 1 tsp smoked salt
- 400g/14 oz tin butter beans
- 60g/2 oz frozen spinach (see comment above – buy a whole bag (500g) of blocks of frozen spinach – they’re useful for all kinds of things. 60g will be about two of them)
- Freshly ground black pepper, or a pinch of Urfa pepper flakes
- Couple of walnuts of butter
- 60ml/¼ cup rosé vermouth
- Slurp of olive oil
- Take a couple of blocks (see note above) of frozen spinach out of the freezer.
- In a large elliptical frying pan, dry fry the chorizo until the fat begins to ooze out of it.
- Meanwhile, halve the cherry tomatoes. Add to the frying pan together with the spinach, and a generous slurp of olive oil.
- Add the oregano, and the black pepper. Stir. Fry gently.
- Drain and rinse the butter beans and add to the frying pan.
- Add the garlic. Mix again.
- Add a tablespoon of the rosé vermouth. At this stage you can put the mixture, in an airtight container, in the fridge until you are ready to use it, or you can keep going.
- Season the fish fillets and cut a couple of shallow slashes in the skin.
- Push the butter bean mixture to one end of the frying pan to make enough space to fry the fish fillets.
- Add a little extra oil and turn up the heat. Fry the fillets skin side down first, then turn and fry the other side – you will need just a couple of minutes for each side. The skin side should be crispy and the non-skin side golden.
- If you don’t like skin it should be easy to just gently lift it off.
- Make a bed of the butter bean mixture on two plates. Top each with a fillet (crispy, skin-side up if you like skin, golden under-side if you don’t).
- Deglaze the frying pan with the rest of the vermouth and pour over. Grind over a little extra pepper – or some Spanish sweet smoked paprika. Serve!