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Recipe by Mario Cassineri, executive chef, BICE

I don’t cook when I am at home. If I am alone or have time off, I go out to restaurants to see what is going on in the city or to see what is new. I never cook for me. I enjoy when I cook for someone else and they like what they eat. It’s my satisfaction. I can kill myself and work for 20 hours for somebody else because I like to see people enjoy what I have created. If I cook for me, I know I will enjoy it because I know what I cook.

It’s always interesting to try different things. Usually, I go out to try new restaurants with a friend or sometimes with a girl. When I go out to eat, I prefer Japanese or sushi, but I like the food to be ultra-traditional and unique where they use great produce and care about the quality of the food. And, of course, that they care about the customer. Because for me, every customer is a king in my restaurant.

Cooking is such a passion for me. Just after high school, I worked at a restaurant that was owned by a friend of our family. I played in the kitchen for a week and I realized that it was nice and it was great and I had a chance to create something that people could really enjoy.

I grew up in Italy. Every region in my country has a different way of cooking. My mother and grandmother used to cook the traditional plates from a long time ago and I learned a lot from this. They had very typical old recipes, which are the base of Italian cooking.

I have owned restaurants all over the world, from Dubai to Santo Domingo to the Maldives. By the time I came to San Diego, I had opened ten restaurants all over the world. San Diego is a very nice city and the people are very nice, but what I like is that when you give quality to the customer here, they understand. They understand the quality we serve. They understand that we serve authentic Italian food. They understand what we do. I am very proud that we serve authentic Italian food. Not mixing it or serving American-Italian but food with real ingredients and real quality.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cedar plank for cooking fish
  • 1 lb fresh sea bass filet, butterflied with skin on
  • ¼ c. fresh, mixed herbs
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/3 c. shallots, chopped
  • ½ c. white wine
  • 2 T fish stock
  • truffle essence to taste (you can substitute truffle oil)

Soak cedar plank in cold water for two hours. Set oven to broil. Season the butterflied sea bass (skin down) with fresh herbs, one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place sea bass skin down on the soaked cedar plank. Place the cedar plank on a foil-lined baking sheet and place in the oven. Broil for 6–7 minutes.

 In a small pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the cherry tomatoes briefly, about one minute. In a separate pan set to medium heat, mix remaining extra-virgin olive oil, chopped shallots, and white wine, and sauté until reduced by half. Add fish stock and emulsify with a whisk.  Season with salt and pepper and add the cherry tomatoes. Add truffle essence and remove from the heat. When the sea bass is cooked through, top it with the sauce and serve immediately.

I recommend that you serve this dish with a caponata of zucchini, eggplant, and bell pepper.

Note: Truffle essence can be purchased at mondofood.com. Truffle oil and cedar planks are available at Whole Foods.

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