Seared Black Sea Bass in Roasted Tomato Broth
- Four 6-ounce black sea bass, striped bass or red snapper fillets
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 Roasted Tomato Halves
- 12 bay leaves
- 4 large thyme sprigs, plus 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
- 2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- 1 1/2 cups Roasted Tomato Juices
Put the bass fillets together to form 2 whole fish; cut each one crosswise to form 2 pieces of equal weight; the thinner tail pieces will be longer. Separate the fillets and season them with salt and pepper. Lay a roasted tomato on half of the fillet pieces and top with 2 bay leaves and a thyme sprig. Cover with the matching fillets and tie each bundle in three places with kitchen string. insert a bay leaf under a string in each bundle and season with salt and pepper.
In a large skillet, heat the 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil over moderately high heat. Add the fish bundles to the pan, skin side down. Cook the fish over moderate heat until the skin is browned and the bottom fillets are just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Turn the bundles, reduce the heat to low and cook the second side; the thinner pieces will be done first.
Meanwhile, in a small nonreactive saucepan, gently simmer the tomato juices for 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon the tomato juices onto plates and set the fish bundles on top. Garnish with the thyme leaves and a drizzle of olive oil. Don't eat the strings or the bay leaves.