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Oceana Magazine Winter 2010: Chef's Corner - Passionfish

The husband-and-wife team behind Passionfish in Pacific Grove, California, went green long before it was trendy.

Ted and Cindy Walter – a chef and the daughter of a fisherman – have been vocal proponents of the sustainable seafood movement ever since launching their restaurant.

“We opened Passionfish restaurant and planned to serve the catch of our local fisherman,” said Cindy Walter. “We were disappointed to find few of the local families I had known bringing in the harvests we’d come to expect. This was a situation we could not ignore.”

Now, Passionfish is a respected destination for sustainable seafood, and the Walters welcome the conversation when diners ask why bluefin tuna or Chilean sea bass aren’t on the menu.

 

“There are plenty of seafood choices that are sustainable,” Cindy said. “We need to remember that the ocean sustains our life, and offer a little more respect and thanks back to our blue planet.”

 

Striped Bass with Moroccan Chickpea Salad

Serves Six

 

For the Charmoula

1 tbsp. fennel seeds

2 tsp. coarsely chopped fresh rosemary

1 tsp. cumin seeds

1 tsp. dried crushed red pepper

1 tsp. whole white pepper corns

1 cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian

parsley leaves

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

cup chopped fresh mint

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

3 garlic cloves

1 cup olive oil

6 6-7 ounce bass fillets

 

For the Moroccan Salad

2 large red bell peppers

2 flat breads (such as pita bread)

1 15½ oz. can chickpeas, drained

1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely

chopped

¼ cup raisins

2 tbsp. drained capers

2 tbsp. olive oil

 

Charmoula

Combine first five ingredients in spice grinder until finely ground. Transfer to blender. Add parsley and next four ingredients. With blender running, gradually add oil and blend until course puree forms. Season to taste with salt.

Place fish on large plate. Pour ¾ cup charmoula over fish, turning to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to one day. Cover and refrigerate the remaining charmoula to use as dressing for salad.

 

Moroccan Salad

Char bell peppers directly over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides.

Transfer to paper bag and seal tightly. Let stand for 15 minutes. Peel, seed, and chop peppers. Toast flat bread directly over gas flame or in broiler until crisp and charred on both sides. Tear into bite size pieces.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place peppers, bread, chickpeas, and next four ingredients into a large bowl. Add ¾ cup charmoula and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in large ovenproof non-stick skillet  over medium-high heat. Add fish with marinade still clinging to it, and cook until  brown, or about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer skillet to oven and roast fish until thoroughly cooked, about 8 minutes.

Place salad on each serving plate. Top with bass fillet and serve.