1 ⅓ lb sea bass fillets (or other white fish), skin-on, cut into 4 fillets
1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
2 small Japanese eggplants, stemmed, halved lengthwise
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
12 green olives, pitted, sliced
2 anchovy fillets, minced
2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
Fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
Lemon juice, optional
Extra-virgin olive oil, optional
Season fillets with salt and let rest for 15 minutes. Remove excess moisture with paper towels. Cut a crosshatch pattern on the eggplants. Add 1 quart of water and 2 teaspoons of salt into a large bowl and soak the eggplants for about 15–20 minutes. Drain water and pat eggplants dry.
Preheat the pan over medium-high heat for about 90 seconds. Add in 2 tablespoons of oil and swirl to coat evenly. Allow smoke to rise from the entire surface of the pan, then turn off heat. Once smoke clears, add eggplants, cut-side down, and sear over low heat for about 3–5 minutes until lightly browned. Flip and sear the other side for another 3–5 minutes. Once softened, transfer to a plate.
In the same pan, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Allow smoke to rise from the entire surface of the pan, then turn off the heat. Once smoke clears, add fillets, skin-side down, and sear over low heat for about 5 minutes. Once about 70% cooked, flip fillets, turn off heat, and let cook in residual heat for about 1 minute. Transfer the fillets, skin-side up, on top of the plated eggplants.
In the same pan, add 2 tablespoons of oil and garlic. Sauté over low heat until fragrant, then add olives, anchovies, panko breadcrumbs, and parsley. Stir to combine, then turn off the heat.
Add the olive mixture on top of the fillets and serve with a drizzle of lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil.
Soaking eggplants in saltwater keeps the eggplants from absorbing excess oil while cooking.
Adjust cooking time depending on the thickness of the fillets.
In case fish skin sticks to the pan, let the fillets cook further until the skin peels off cleanly without force.
Pat dry fillets as thoroughly as possible to get a nice crisp skin.
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