(Originally published July 18, 2015 on Examiner.com).
Earlier in July of this year at Union Restaurant in Pasadena, Chef Bruce Kalman put the “Wild Pacific Sea Bass, heirloom grains, smoked almond romesco, charred baby leeks” dish on the restaurant’s menu. The inspiration behind this dish is what Kalman thought would pair really well together: A really flavorful, slightly oily fish with earthy grains and some Spanish influence of the charred onions and romesco.
The wild sea bass is sourced from Captain Ben at Wild Local Seafood Co while the almonds are from Fat Uncle Farms, the grains are from Grist & Toll, and the baby leeks and bell peppers are from Thao Farms. Like all of the other fish provided by Captain Ben at Wild Local Seafood, the sea bass is caught with a hook and line sustainably and locally off the coast of California.
(Interesting side note, bass is a generic term used for a number of different fish species some of which are bass, and some of which are not. Pacific bass, also known as white sea bass, is actually a croaker. This fish was severely overfished, but starting in the 1980’s was restored by an extensive hatchery breeding program by Scripps Institution of Oceanography (UC San Diego) and HUBBS- Seaworld Research Institute. Hatchlings born in captivity have been released at ten inches of length into the ocean to breed and rebuild populations so successfully that the fish is again plentiful and listed as a “best choice” by Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch).
In making this dish Chef Kalman noted, “I was taught the best way to cook fish is skin on all the way through skin side down on one side, completely rendering the moisture out of the skin so the skin is crispy. We then baste the meat side of the fish with butter, herbs and lemon peels to finish cooking it through. The end result is a delicate fillet of fish with really crispy skin.”
Kalman’s chose to plate the dish simply in a rustic yet still modern presentation. As with all the food served at Union, almost all ingredients are locally sourced, responsibly raised/handled and sustainable. To try this dish or any other item currently on the menu at Pasadena please make a reservation via Resy on Union’s website. Union is located at 37 E. Union Street in Pasadena. The restaurant is open weekdays 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM and on weekends 4:00 PM to 11:00 PM. To keep up with the latest Union information, please also follow Union’s accounts on Instagram and twitter.