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25 Jan 2010 - 16:25
15 Jan 2010 - 18:53

zucchini flower sea bass

Friday, 07 Aug 2009

I grew up eating zucchini flowers. In Spanish they are known as "flor de calabaza" and are sold in large bouquets that you don't feel timid about using. Quesadillas, soups, whatever.  Elsewhere however, whenever I've found them for sale, they are handled and priced like precious jewels.  Sometimes it annoys me, other times it makes me nostalgic, always it makes my mouth water. I love their gentle flavor.

I found them at the Union Square Greenmarket the other day as I was heading home in the late afternoon. The market was closing down and one stand had discounted all their produce in an attempt to sell out before heading out of town.  Score!

Feeling lucky about my market deal, I wanted to try something new.  The last time I was in Italy, I had some outrageous ravioli in a zucchini flower sauce and started riffing on that, but with Mexican flavorings.  I was also making some pea pod soup, and decided to use some of the broth as a base for this sauce.  Good call, it gave the sauce an amazing depth of flavor that water or basic broth just couldn't achieve. However, it's not realistic to always have pea pod broth on hand, so I suggest making this with a basic vegetable broth unless you have the time and inclination to go all out.

zucchini flower sea bass


20 zucchini flowers, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 white onion, chopped
2/3 cup broth (pea pod* or basic vegetable)
2 dried red chilis (chile de arbol, as seen in picture above)
450 g (1 lb.) sea bass (you can substitute with another flaky white fish)
sea salt
splash of white wine
olive oil

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy pan.  Saute the onion until soft and let edges brown a little. Add the minced garlic and whole dried chilis, sauteing until the garlic is lightly golden.  Add the zucchini flowers and let wilt, about 2 minutes.  Add a splash of white wine to deglaze the pan.  Add the broth, vegetable or pea pod, and let the liquid consume itself to about 1/2 its original volume at medium heat.  Stir every now and then to ensure that nothing sticks.  Season with sea salt.  

Clean and cut the sea bass into squares, approximately 2.5" x 2.5".  Don't worry about getting perfect squares, just roughly cut them into smallish pieces.  Season with salt and pepper and a smidge of olive oil rubbed into the flesh.  Place the filets onto the zucchini flower sauce, spooning a bit of the sauce onto of each piece.  Lower the heat, cover the pan, and let the filets take a nap for about 5 minutes until cooked through.

Serve with brown rice.

*if you want to give it a try:  shell your peas and put some water to boil.  Reserve peas for another meal.  Boil the empty pea pods for approximately 30m with some water and coarse sea salt, then blend well and strain in a food mill to remove the indomitable fibers.

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Hungry Burro - zucchini flower sea bass

Comments (1)

Katie J | 12 Aug 2009 - 18:40

Sounds delicious! Some of my favorite ingredients...will definitely give it a try soon and let you know how it turns out :)

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