Chef Box Series: Striped Bass Collars with Pepperonata
Collars are a part of the fish that chefs know and love, but diners seldom see. That’s because they rarely make it out of the kitchen! When SRV buys whole striped bass for the restaurant, the collars may appear as a menu special — or they may end up as the cooks’ treat.
Striped bass collars have a texture that’s distinct from the rest of the fish. When cooked, the flesh pulls apart like roast chicken or pork shoulder. Pepperonata is a personal favorite that Chef Michael makes all summer long on his grill at home.
For the pepperonatta
- 1 28 ounce can pureed tomato
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons salt
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- ⅓ cup tomato paste
- ½ cup white balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
For the grilled vegetables
- 6 bell peppers, mixed colors
- 2 medium red onions
- ½ cup oregano, fresh leaves
For the collars
- 1 pound striped bass collars, cut in half along the central bone if still connected. If striped bass are unavailable, grouper or snapper collars are a good substitute.
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
Heat a pan on medium with olive oil and add the crushed garlic cloves. Sweat them without any color (1-2 minutes) and then add in the tomato puree. Add ½ tablespoon of salt and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce it by one third and then add in the tomato paste. Add the white balsamic and olive oil. Set aside.
Preheat the grill leaving one spot on a slightly lower temperature than the rest. Slice off the top of the peppers at the stem. Remove seeds. Toss peppers with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon salt. Place each pepper on the grill skin side down.
In the meantime, cut the red onions in half, leaving the skin on. Season the cut side with ½ tablespoon of salt and place them cut side down on the lower temperature zone on the grill. Cook the peppers until they have good grill marks and are slightly charred. Do not fully char the skin like you are making roasted red peppers. Flip the peppers and cook the other side. The pepper should be pliable but still have some bite.
Grill the onion halves until the seasoned side is charred (it’s ok if they go fully black). Turn the onion on the skin side and leave them until the onion is just squishy and the petals start to separate.
Cut the grilled peppers into 1/4-inch strips and add them into the bowl with the marinade. Peel the charred skin off the onion and discard them. Cut the onions into ¼ inch strips and add them to the marinade bowl. Toss it all together and add in the fresh oregano leaves. Taste for seasoning.
Drizzle the collars with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place collars on the grill skin side down and cook until you see the fish cooking up the sides and the top start to bubble. Flip the collars and cook through on the other side.
Serve with the pepperonata and drizzle with more olive oil.