Stonewall Kitchen, LLC

Monday, January 26, 2009

Today is National Pistachio Day!

Today is National Pistachio Day! I feel proud to be a Californian, as 98% of American pistachios are grown in California! However, interestingly, typically the number one producer of Pistachios world-wide is Iran, number two is California.

(image from

We are huge consumers of pistachios, and I find myself chopping them up and adding them to salads and even to vanilla ice cream to add an interesting flavor and texture. I have even experimented with using pistachios as a crunchy coating for chicken.

My experiments led me to find this recipe from for Pistachio Sea Bass with Crab Salad. I cannot wait to try this one!

(image from, photo by: Richard Gerhard Jung)

Pistachio Sea Bass with Crab Salad

Gourmet October 2003
Adapted from chef Laurent Gras

Yield: Makes 6 servings

Cooking the sea bass in parchment paper is a great technique — it keeps the pistachio topping in place and allows you to brown both the fish and the topping in the skillet (the parchment becomes translucent so you can see the browning. Since Gras is on the West Coast, he likes to use Dungeness crab when he makes this dish. We've substituted jumbo lump crabmeat because it's available year round nationwide.


For crab salad
1/2 pound sea beans (salicornia), tips (tiny branches along stem) reserved and stems discarded (3/4 cup)
3/4 pound cooked jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over and broken into small pieces
4 scallions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon curry powder, or to taste

For fish
6 (5-ounce) pieces skinless sea bass fillet (3/4 inch thick), bones removed with tweezers
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
3/4 cup finely chopped unsalted shelled pistachios (not dyed red; 3 ounces)
1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons pistachio oil
Fleur de sel to taste
Coconut sauce

Special equipment: 6 large (24- by 14-inch) sheets white parchment paper; 6 small metal paper clips; an 18- by 12-inch baking sheet


Make crab salad:
Blanch sea bean tips in a small saucepan of boiling salted water 30 seconds, then drain in a sieve and pat dry.

Reserve 1/4 cup sea bean tips for garnish, then stir together remaining tips with crab and scallions. Stir together lime juice and curry powder in a small bowl, then pour over crab and toss well. Add salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine.

Prepare and cook fish:
Cut 1 sea bass fillet in half crosswise (each piece should measure about 4 by 3 inches). Season skinned sides of both halves lightly with salt, then stack pieces, skinned sides together, to form a "steak." Brush top generously with egg white and top evenly with about 2 tablespoons pistachios, pressing to adhere. Assemble 5 more servings in same manner.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Fold 1 sheet of parchment in half crosswise and, starting at 1 end of crease, cut out a half heart shape, keeping vertical crease as long as possible. Unfold heart and arrange on a work surface with point nearest you, then place a fish steak just to 1 side of crease. Fold other half of heart over fish to enclose and, starting at top of crease, turn in edges of parchment in overlapping folds, about 1 inch apart, pressing each fold firmly as you go, to form a tight seal. Tuck last fold under packet and secure with a paper clip. Make 5 more packets in same manner.

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sear 2 fish packets, starting with nut sides down, until nuts are pale golden, about 30 seconds (watch closely, as nuts burn easily). Carefully turn packets over with a slotted metal spatula and sear until fish is golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer seared packets, nut sides up, with spatula to baking sheet. Sear remaining packets in same manner, adding more oil to skillet as needed.

Bake packets until fish is just cooked through, about 13 minutes.

While fish bakes, divide crab salad among 6 plates, arranging in center as a bed for fish.

Cut open each packet and lightly brush top (nut side) with 1 teaspoon pistachio oil, then sprinkle with fleur de sel. Carefully transfer fish with spatula to crab salad, discarding parchment, and pour coconut sauce around fish. Sprinkle each with reserved sea bean tips.

Cooks' note:
·Fish packets can be assembled 3 hours ahead and chilled. Let stand at room temperature 45 minutes before cooking.

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