Buckwheat has a special place on our tables. In fact Ajdovi žganci (a kind of polenta made out of buckwheat flour) are one of the typical dishes or the Ajdovi krapci too … But we use its flour to prepare also bread, štruklji (a sweet version of dumplings but it has numerous variations and forms here) and also a fantastic ricotta tart.
Did you know that it is really healthy and also considered to be a super-food? Buckwheat is gluten free and packed with iron, zink, selenium and antioxidants.
I decided to combine buckwheat with Piran sea bass from Fonda. Simply because buckwheat needs a fish of a delicate but pronounced flavor and taste which this one surely has. If you aren’t able to get one than try obtaining at least wild sea bass as those from breeding are lacking both in coping with buckwheat’s aromas and taste.
For 2 portions you’ll need following ingredients.
For the fish stock:
- Sea bass filleting left overs
- 1 shallot or small onion
- 2 carrots
- 1 celery stalk
- olive oil
- salt & pepper
You can skip the preparation of fish stock. In that case have 500 ml of either fish or vegetable stock (or dissolve half the dice of stock cube in 500 ml of warm water).
For buckwheat risotto:
- 100 g buckwheat
- approx 500 ml of fish or vegetable stock (yes, you can skip making it on your own)
- 2 carrots
- 1 shallot or small onion
- olive oil
- salt + pepper
And of course 2 fillets of sea bass (approximate weight of whole fish should be around 550 g).
Start by filleting the fish. Check this really great video on fileting sea bass. At first it looks hard but try it, after couple of times you’ll be doing this no sweat. You can also ask your fishmonger to do that for you and don’t forget to take also what will be left of the carcass (spine bones, head and tail).
For the fish stock start by chopping the shallot, carrots and celery stalk. Heat the pan, add a bit of olive oil and then soften the shallot first, add both carrots and celery stalk and allow them to soften and develop flavors. Add fish leftovers and when they are done cover them with water (use all the water at least so that you don’t run out of stock). Add salt, pepper and thyme and bring quickly to the boil. Lower the heat and leave simmering for approximately 30 minutes.
I like to dice (bruonise) the carrots for buckwheat risotto into small cubes of approx 3mm x 3mm. See this video on how to brunoise carrots.
Now to the sea bass fillets. Remove pin bones with the help of fish tweezers and cut them in half. Position them skin side up, press the edges gently together so that the middle part will stand out and cut the skin vertically in approximately 1 cm distance. Add thyme springs and salt and gently rub in salt and thyme springs into the cuts to let it infuse filets. Making those cuts will also prevent the skin from shrinking up causing the fillet to cook uneven.
Moving on with the buckwheat risotto, finely dice the shallot. Heat the pan on medium heat and add olive oil, add chopped shallot and soften, add chopped carrots and let them soften up. Then add buckwheat and allow her to absorb all nicely developed flavors. Aaah the aroma that will come out of the pan as soon as buckwheat starts heating up …
This step is optional, but I like to add approximately 50 ml of Slovenia vodka, not only because it has a great flavor and will add a nice kick to the risotto, but also because it is made with buckwheat. Allow it to evaporate and then start adding warm fish stock ladle by ladle allowing it to evaporate completely in between the process. When you’ll be left with approximately 2 ladles add a spring of fresh thyme to buckwheat and stir it well, so that it will infuse its flavor into the buckwheat. Taste the buckwheat and season if needed. When cooked buckwheat has to be soft but consistent.
Now for the sea bass. Before adding last 2 ladles of fish stock to buckwheat heat a pan on medium heat, add olive oil and when hot position sea bass fillets skin side down. When they will start going white all over the edges turn them around and pan fry for approximately 45 seconds. When they are done place them on a sheet of paper to absorb excessive oil and you’re ready to plate the dish. You can also check this video on pan frying sea bass.
I like to finely chop trimmings of a carrot and use them for decoration together with few thyme springs.
If you’d like to match this dish with a perfect wine than look for a wine that did not rest in wood and has a lot of freshness and pronounced aromas. At the presentation in Palmanova Giovanni suggested pairing it with Malvasia from Mulino Delle Tolle, 2012. The pairing was perfect because the wine has lovely aromas of fruit like peaches and pears and there is also an aroma of hazelnuts. All of them go well with the aromas of buckwheat which reminds chestnuts and hazelnuts. And in the mouth the play in between freshness of the wine and sea bass, the rather softness of wine with buckwheat consistency, the body of wine not overpowering but complementing both buckwheat and sea bass. Amazing …
The recipe might be a bit time consuming, but it really pays of. Enjoy!