Chef Daniel Boulud’s Sea Bass With Romesco Sauce, Broccoli Rabe, and Baked Red Onion

A spicy Romesco and side of baked, then seared broccoli rabe perfectly complement a tender, buttery sea bass.

Sea Bass with Romesco Sauce, Broccoli Rabe, and Baked Red Onion
 Courtesy Daniel Boulud

If you’ve never made a Romesco sauce, or never even tried it before, listen up: this is the diet-friendly meal topper you’re going to want to put on everything you eat—whether it be fish (like in this recipe), meat, or vegetables.

The Romesco is spicy, without being overpowering, and is packed with flavor from charred bell peppers, piquillo peppers, and a bit of Spanish smoked paprika—not to mention it’s easy to make and can be stored for up to a few days. It perfectly compliments the baked, and then seared see bass, but like we said, you’ll be putting it on just about everything.

This recipe comes courtesy of chef Daniel Boulud, the Michelin-starred head chef of Daniel in New York City and several other restaurants around the world.

Prep time

15 min.

Cook time

80 min.

  • 1 red onion, skin on
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • Fine sea salt
  • 2 bunches broccoli rabe
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 sea bass fillets, deboned, skin on
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ cup fresh arugula
  • 3 Tbsp sliced almonds
  • 1 tsp piment d’Espelette
  • For the Romesco sauce:
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4 piquillo peppers (canned)
  • ½ cup sourdough croutons
  • ¼ cup Marcona almonds
  • 2 dried Noras chilies, soaked in water overnight and seeded
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Smoked Spanish paprika
  • Salt and ground white pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F. Pour salt into a mound on a baking sheet and set onion on top. Bake for 45 minutes, turning once, or until tender.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes or until cool enough to peel and cut into wedges. Season and sear the wedges on each side over high heat and keep warm.  

Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil and add the broccoli rabe.  Cook for 3-4 minutes then strain and chill in ice water. Remove and drain onto paper towels, then sear the broccoli rabe over high heat and keep warm.

Place the Romesco sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until heated through.

Preheat a plancha or cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Season the filets on both sides with salt and pepper. Oil the skin side of the fillets, and sear them on the plancha for 3 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Flip the fillets and continue searing for 1 minute, or until just cooked through. 

To assemble, swipe each plate with the Romesco sauce and add 5 or 6 stalks broccoli rabe. Squeeze the lemon over each filet and add to the plate. Next add a couple of the onion wedges, the arugula leaves, and the sliced almonds over the broccoli rabe. Sprinkle of pinch of piment d’Espelette over each dish and serve immediately.

For the Romesco sauce, first blacken the skin of a red bell pepper over an open flame. Transfer the pepper to a resealable bag, seal, and allow it to steam at room temperature for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tablespoon of the the olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat.

Add the onion, tomatoes, garlic, and piquillo peppers. Sauté until the onions are tender, about 4 minutes. Peel the black skin from the red pepper and trim away the seeds.

Transfer pepper and cooked vegetables to a blender with the croutons, almonds, chilies, and vinegar. Blend until smooth and then steam in the olive oil. Season to taste with paprika, salt, and pepper.