BAKED SEA BASS WITH EGGPLANT AND GINGER (FUSION)
The recipe is adapted from The Seafood Cookbook, a too-little-known collaboration between Pierre Franey ("The 60 Minute Gourmet") and Bryan Miller (former restaurant critic of The New York Times).
First, make the sauce:
Peel a smallish eggplant and cut it into 1/4-inch dice, about enough to make 2 cups. You can go through the salt, let stand and pat dry procedure if you think it removes "bitterness," but personally, I've never found much advantage in this time-consuming approach. Chop a small onion and mince a large clove of garlic. Mince enough fresh ginger root to make a heaping tablespoon. Chop enough fresh cilantro to make 1/4 cup. Peel and chop enough fresh tomatoes to make one cup (or substitute 1/2 cup of good tomato sauce if you can't find decent out-of-season fresh tomatoes). Set aside 1/3 cup of leftover dry white wine.
Heat 1 tablespoon of good olive oil in a nonstick sautee pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onion wilts. Add the eggplant and stir. Add the tomatoes (or tomato sauce) and cook over medium heat, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the ginger, then the wine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the cilantro, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to very low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
While the sauce is cooking, preheat the oven to 450 F.
Place one or two fillets of striped bass (or other similar fish) in a lightly oiled, oven-proof baking dish. Salt and pepper to taste. When the sauce is ready, pour it all over the fillets and pop 'em in the oven. Sprinkle with the juice of 1/2 fresh lime, and bake for about 10 minutes or until the fish is just done.
The combination of all the aromatic flavors -- onion, garlic, ginger, and cilantro -- turns the sauce into something like a ratatouille, only better, and gently permeates the fish. This was really excellent with a quality Pouilly Fume, a dry white wine from the French Loire; beer lovers could do worse than choose a crisp pilsener to wash it down.