Seared Striped Bass (or Swordfish) in a Clam and Garlic Sauce

By Joan MacIsaac, Ruby Chard Catering

This is a great recipe for a late summer night on the patio. It features seasonal New England seafood and very simple seasonings, garlic, lemon, olive oil and parsley. Serve with crusty bread for mopping up the juices.

Steaming the Clams:
2 dozen Wellfleet littleneck clams
1 cup water

Garlic Sauce:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup shallots, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 cup white wine

1 tablespoon olive oil for the fish
2 - 3 pounds Striped Bass filets or other New England Summer Fish (Swordfish in August-Sept)
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Cracked black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Lemon wedges for garnishing

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Place the clams in a bowl of cold water. Rinse and scrub the clams under running water. If the clams feel gritty, repeat the process to remove all the sand.

Place the clams in a small stockpot or saucepan, covering with the water. Cover tightly and place on a high flame. Once you see steam coming from the pot, the clams will open after about 1 minute, transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Try to remove the clams before they totally open. Chill the clams in the refrigerator and pour the liquid through a sieve and reserve the liquid.

Remove the clams from their shells (save some or the shells for garnish if you like) and roughly chop the clams. Set aside.

Heat a saucepan on medium; add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the shallots. Cook the shallots until they are soft and translucent (sweating). Add the garlic and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the white wine and increase the flame to high, reducing the liquid by half of its volume. Remove the pan from the heat and add this to the reserved clam juices.

Cut the fish filets into serving size portions (approximately 6 ounces). Rub with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Heat a large sauté pan on high. When it is hot (test with a small edge of the fish, it should sizzle) add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and place the fish filets, skin side up. Make sure there is room between the filets for adequate browning. Sear the filets for 2 - 3 minutes. Flip the fish, sear the other side for about 2 minutes, making sure there is browning. If the fish is thick, place the pan in the pre-heated oven and continue cooking for 4 - 5 minutes. (If the filets are thin, reduce the heat to medium, cover and continue cooking in the pan for 1-2 minutes.) Ideally you will want the interior of the fish slightly under done.

Remove the fish from the sauté pan or oven and transfer to a serving platter.

In the pan the fish was cooked in, add the reserved clam juices. Bring to a boil and using a wooden spoon, scrape up any browned particles off the bottom of the sauté pan. Reduce this liquid so it just covers the bottom of the pan. If you go too far add a tiny bit more wine or water. Lower the heat and add the clams, parsley and cracked black pepper to taste. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons the olive oil (or you can substitute unsalted butter) and ladle the sauce over the fish.

Serve hot with lemon wedge on the side.