Striped Bass with Forbidden Black Rice and Chorizo

Striped Bass with Forbidden Black Rice and ChorizoThese delicate fish fillets rest on a comely bed of black rice and are coated with a lemony butter sauce. The dish is quite easy to prepare but requires some attention when finishing off the fish and the rice simultaneously. Striped bass fillets are light and flaky when cooked properly, but they will fall apart and become mushy if overcooked. Use the freshest fish you can find. You can substitute any other light-textured fillet, such as rock cod or petrale sole.

According to legend, the medium-grain Chinese black rice once eaten exclusively by the Emperors and related ruling classes was known as “forbidden” rice. When cooked, it’s more dark purple than black, and offers an attractive nutty flavor and firm texture. You can find it in most Asian markets and specialty-food shops, but whole-grain brown rice makes a reasonable substitute (just remember that brown rice will take about 10 minutes longer to cook). This recipe calls for spiking the rice with spicy Spanish chorizo sausage, which adds both heat and a meaty quality to the mix.

Domaine Chandon Chardonnay would pair well here; so would a lighter-bodied Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, or dry rosé.


1 3/4 cups/420 ml cold water

1 cup/215 g Chinese/”forbidden” black rice

4 skinless striped bass fillets, about 5 oz/140 g each

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup/120 ml Chicken Stock (page XX) or canned low-sodium broth

4 oz/115 g chorizo, skin removed, cut into 1/4-in/6-mm dice (about 1 cup)

4 tbsp unsalted butter

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, plus 12 very thin lemon wedges and more juice for serving (optional)

2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro/fresh coriander

In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Add the rice, return to a boil, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes. (The rice will not be fully cooked.) Remove from the heat and set aside, still covered.

Season the fillets on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large sauté pan or frying pan, heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Place the fish fillets in the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the edges turn white, about 4 minutes.

While the fish is cooking, in a large saucepan, bring the stock to a boil over high heat. Add the chorizo, 2 tbsp of the butter, and the cooked rice. Reduce the heat to medium and stir the rice thoroughly. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Cover and set aside. (Be careful to monitor the progress of your fish, which will need to be flipped in the pan at about the same time.)

As the edges of the fish turn white, add the remaining 2 tbsp butter to the pan. Lift the pan slightly and tilt it back and forth to melt the butter. When the butter has melted, using a spatula, gently turn the fillets, taking care not to let them fall apart. Baste the fillets with the melted butter for about 20 seconds and continue to cook until opaque throughout, about 1 minute longer.

To serve, mound 1/2–1 cup/70–140 g rice (depending on your diners’ appetites) in the center of each plate. Place a fish fillet on top of the rice. Add the 1 tbsp lemon juice to the pan and swirl it into the remaining melted butter and pan juices. Drizzle the lemon butter over each fillet and garnish each with 3 lemon wedges and 1/2 tbsp of the cilantro/coriander. If you like, dot each serving with a little more lemon juice. Serve at once.

Serves 4

In a small sauté pan, over medium-low heat, combine the 1/2 cup chervil leaves with the 1/2 cup olive oil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the oil is hot and small bubbles form around edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Strain the chervil-infused oil through a fine-mesh sieve, save and reserve. Discard the chervil.
In a soup pot, heat the 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the leek and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in the onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Sauté until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and red bell pepper and sauté for 3 minutes longer. Add the stock, clam juice, wine, and 1 tsp salt, and mix well. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the corn kernels from the ears of corn. Add the corn kernels to the soup and simmer until the corn is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the crab and cook for 2 more minutes to heat through. Stir in the cream and remove from heat. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Ladle the bisque into warm bowls. Swirl 1/2 to 1 tsp chervil oil into each serving and garnish with the 2 tbsp chervil leaves. Serve hot.