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Plantain-Crusted Chilean Sea Bass with Star Anise, Orange, And Saffron Sauce

Paul O'Connell of Chez Henri in Cambridge was inspired to create this dish based on a saffron, orange, coconut milk conch chowder he recently tasted at Norman Van Aken's restaurant (Norman's) in Miami. O'Connell makes the bananalike plantain chips fresh at his restaurant, which not only create a crunchy crust for the fish but nicely tie into its Latin roots.

For the sauce:

1/2 cup white wine
1 teaspoon minced fresh peeled ginger
1 shallot, peeled and minced
2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon crushed saffron
2 whole star anise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the fish:

2/3 cup well-crushed plantain chips
1/3 cup toasted coarsely ground hazelnuts
6 (6-ounce) Chilean sea bass fillets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon sweet butter
Fresh chopped cilantro, for garnish

To make the sauce, combine the wine, ginger, and shallot in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the orange juice, coconut milk, saffron, and star anise. Simmer the mixture again, cooking until reduced to 1 cup, about 35 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and remove the star anise. Cover and keep warm.

To make the fish, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the plantain chips and hazelnuts in a large bowl. Season both sides of the fillets with salt and pepper, and roll in the crust mixture until they are completely coated. Set aside.

Heat the canola oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fish and reduce the heat to medium. Add the butter and cook the fish on both sides until golden, about 8 minutes in total. Place the skillet in the oven and roast the fish until it is flaky and cooked through, about 5 to 10 minutes, depending upon the thickness of the fillets.

To serve, spoon a portion of the warm sauce onto 4 plates. Place the Chilean sea bass on the sauce and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.

Serves 6.

By Victoria Abbott Riccardi, Globe Correspondent

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