SEA BASS STRIKES THE RIGHT NOTES
Whenever I encounter Sea Bass, I think of the true story of the good old days of Cyprus wine: the Wine Pipeline. The industry was selling huge quantities of bulk wines and “Cyprus Sherry” to various European markets. The wine was actually pumped out to tanker ships, anchored about 400 metres offshore, by pipeline. On this occasion, when pumping had finished, the French tanker captain called to shore saying that the pumping was several hundred litres short. “No! No!” came the response, “Our metres show the complete quantity”. Eventually a small leak in the pipelines was discovered. That night a few parcels of wine were found and the shortage was made up, and the wine tanker departed. The next day, fishermen found thousands of recently deceased fish floating on the water where the pumping (and the leak) had taken place. Fresh enough for sale, they had a bonus day. Much of the “catch” was sea bass.
To be perfect, you need fresh pine-nuts (“Snobar” in Arabic, “Pinolia” in Greek) and these are difficult to find – and expensive. In the Mediterranean region, the best ones come from Lebanon, but all too often the shops sell imported ones from China and they give off a musty flavour. So, in such a case I prefer to use slivers of peeled, blanched almonds.