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Prep 5 mins
Cook 10 mins
Mark Bittman. This dish is a breeze, largely because of the sesame seed crust, which guarantees both flavor and crunch. And the sauce takes about 3 minutes to make! Use any firm white fillets you like here, from sea bass to red snapper or grouper. I am partial to sea bass because of its buttery, rich taste...but that is a definite splurge.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Preheat a large, heavy skillet over medium heat while you prepare the sesame seeds. Put them on a plate and season them with salt and pepper; add the oil to the skillet. When the oil shimmers, begin to turn the fillets in the seeds, encouraging them to coat the fillets as fully as possible, and add the fillets to the skillet.
- Brown the fish on one side for a couple of minutes, then turn and brown on the other side, another minute or two. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the fish to a plate (don't worry if it's done); put the plate of fish in the oven to keep warm.
- When the skillet has cooled slightly, return it to the stove over medium heat. Add the butter and when it melts, add the ginger. About 30 seconds later, add the soy sauce and 1/4 cup water and stir to blend. return the fillets to the skillet, along with any of their accumulated juices.
- Turn the heat to medium and cook the fillets for a total of about 4 minutes, turning 3 or 4 times. (If at any time the pan seems to dry out entirely, add 2 or 3 tablespoons water.) At this point, the fish should be done (a thin-bladed knife inserted into its thickest point will meet little resistance.) Serve with the pan juices spooned over the fish.
Notwithstanding Mark Bittman's pitch about this recipe being a "piece of cake to prepare," it's kind of a pain in the ass; the cook could make good use out of four to six hands and everything happens in very quick succession! But there is no denying the quality of the result. As my spouse, who grew up in the fish business, said, "This is far and away one of the most delicious fish recipes I've tried in 68 years of life!"