Bass Hit

DEAR SOS: I keep thinking about the sublime serving of achiote Chilean sea bass with papaya salsa I had at Zenzero in Santa Monica. I would love to replicate the dish and was wondering if you could get the recipe for me.


Culver City

DEAR PAT: The Zenzero people say that the recipe was, until now, their best-kept secret. They are happy to share it with you and other readers. It's a terrific recipe, but be prepared to spend time in the kitchen. Look for achiote paste at Mexican markets and fresh chile paste at Asian markets.

Zenzero Achiote Chilean Sea Bass With Papaya Salsa

Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 35 minutes plus 8 hours marinating time


2 teaspoons black peppercorns

2 teaspoons dry oregano leaves

8 cloves

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 (2-inch-long) sticks cinnamon

2/3 cups seasoned rice vinegar

4 ounces achiote paste

1 cup water

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 cup peanut or canola oil

4 (6-ounce) filets Chilean sea bass

* Grind together peppercorns, oregano, cloves, cumin and cinnamon.

* Place spice mixture in food processor with vinegar, achiote paste, water and garlic. While machine is running, slowly add oil. Process until smooth. (Marinade can be stored in covered container in refrigerator up to 6 weeks.) Makes about 3 cups.

* Marinate filets in 1 cup marinade, covered, overnight in refrigerator.


2 large papayas, diced

2 red bell peppers, diced

2/3 cup minced red onion

2/3 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 teaspoon sushi seasoning or seasoned rice vinegar

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground oregano

4 teaspoons fresh chile paste (sambal oelek)

* Combine papayas, bell peppers, onion, cilantro, sushi seasoning, cumin, coriander, oregano and chile paste in medium bowl. Mix well. Makes about 4 cups.


2 tablespoons oil

2/3 cup minced leeks, white part only

2 teaspoons minced garlic

8 ears corn, steamed and kernels cut from cob

2 tablespoons chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground oregano

2 tablespoons butter


Freshly ground pepper

* Heat 1 tablespoon oil in skillet over high heat. Lift filets from marinade and add to pan. Brown on both sides, turning once, about 2 minutes.

* Remove fish to baking dish and bake at 400 degrees until it flakes with fork, 10 minutes. Keep warm.

* Add 1 tablespoon oil to skillet and saute leeks and garlic until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add corn and saute 2 minutes. Add broth, cumin, coriander and oregano and cook 2 minutes. Add butter and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, until butter melts and sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes.

* Arrange sea bass and corn mixture on heated plates. Top with Papaya Salsa. Serve with roasted asparagus, if desired.

8 servings. Each serving: 411 calories; 518 mg sodium; 117 mg cholesterol; 21 grams fat; 36 grams carbohydrates; 28 grams protein; 1.64 grams fiber.

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