Make the marinade and the salsa ahead; then serve this quintessential summer fish for a dinner party.

Serves 6

  • 3 pounds striped bass fillet, boned and skinned, cut into 6 portions 

Maple Balsamic Marinade

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 3/4 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Corn and leek topping

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups leeks, cleaned and sliced into thin rings
  • 3/4 cup diced sweet red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano
  • 1 1/2 cups sherry
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 6 ears corn, kernels cut off cobs
  • 3/4 cup fresh scallion greens, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Blend the marinade ingredients in an electric blender on high speed until dressing is thick and emulsified. Transfer to a glass jar and store in the refrigerator.

2. To make salsa, heat olive oil in sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, add shallots, garlic, leeks, red pepper, thyme, and oregano. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Turn heat to medium-high and sauté  until leeks begin to become tender. Add sherry and water to pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for five minutes.

3. Add the corn kernels, stir well, and cook for just 1 minute more. Remove from heat and add scallion greens and basil. Adjust salt and pepper seasoning. Salsa can be held here off the heat until ready to serve fish (reheat quickly on high heat if necessary).

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a glass baking dish, pour 1/2 cup marinade.  Set portioned bass into the pan and season lightly with salt. Coat fish thickly with another cup or so of marinade. Bake for 18 to 25 minutes, depending on thickness of fillets, until just barely cooked. Remove from oven, cover pan with foil, and let rest 2 minutes before serving.

5. To assemble dish, place fish on plate and ladle salsa generously over fish. Garnish with 2 long chives and/or nasturtium blossoms and serve piping hot.

This recipe originally appeared in the September–October 2003 issue, in a column by Eniko DeLisle.