I like to combine ethnic flavor profiles. Who would have thought Philippine & Middle Eastern. IT WORKS! Patismansi is a type of fish sauce originating in the Philippines. It's like regular fish sauce found in south east Asian countries but infused with Philippine lemon or (Calimansi).
It's a dark amber color with what I find to be a slight smoky overtone. The salad I serve with it is my riff on couscous salads found in Israel & Lebanon. I prefer to use the larger Israeli couscous. It has a nicer texture in the salad's cornucopia of ingredients.
1 1/2 lb fillet of grouper from your fish monger.
juice of one lime
2 tbl spoons Patismansi fish sauce with Philipine lemon from your Asian market
2 tbl spoons good soy sauce from your Asian market
3 1/2 tbl spoons of quality honey
1 tbl spoon of brown or palm sugar if you have it.
2 tbl spoons of sesame oil
salt & red pepper flakes to taste
1 cup of Israeli couscous
1 cucumber peeled seeded and diced
12 grape tomatoes diced
8 dried apricots diced
1 healthy sprig of mint torn
1 8oz container of Feta crumbles
healthy douse of extra virgin olive oil
1 tbl spoon of minced preserved garlic
1/2 a lemon squeezed
salt & paper to taste
OK, the salad 1st. In a medium sauce pot. Bring 2 1/2 cups of salted water to a boil. Put in your couscous and boil 4 1/2 to 5 minutes. Strain into a hand strainer and run cold water over it to stop the cooking process. Transfer your couscous into a bowl and refrigerate until ready to mix. Next dice up your cukes, tomatoes & apricots into a small dice and mix them in with the couscous. Next add your olive oil, garlic, feta and mint. Then mix real well and refrigerate till service.
Now the fish! In a small bowl add your Patismansi fish sauce, lime juice, soy sauce, honey, brown or palm sugar, sesame oil, salt & red pepper flakes and mix. Cut and cube your grouper fillet in 2" square medallions. Make sure you spec out any stray bones. Grouper tends to be a pretty clean fillet, but you never know. To cook you'll need a basting brush and about a 10" frying pan. In the pan. Pour a liberal mix of plain vegetable & sesame oil to coat the pan. Bring the heat to medium. About 7 or 8 on the dial. Before placing you fish in the pan. Give the medallions a good coating of you glaze on both sides with your basting brush. Then place them in the pan to sizzle. Give each nugget a little rub around in the pan seal the side and keep it from sticking. This will go quick so keep an eye on what you're doing. The key is to get a good caramelized crust on the outside top and bottom. Re-coating the fish liberally with the glaze as you cook each side. What you'll look for is the pan down edges of the fish to begin going a dark mahogany color. When you see that It's time to flip the nuggets and re-glaze. You'll pretty much want to use every bit of the glaze. When you get down to the last. Drizzle it over the fish. With a pair of tongs remove the fish from the pan to a holding plate and tell'um dinners ready! Plate up and eat. I think you'll find this international pairing. ROCKS!
The first time I had a traditional Caprese salad was the same night I had Penne a'la Vodka with smoked salmon and black caviar. My dining partners were Tom Miller and a one John David Williford. It was at a restaurant called La Locanda in Coral Gables, Florida. Very sheeshee for a young trio of musical nerds out for dinner and a movie.
This particular variation is from the city of Naples on the eastern coast of Italia. I added a little side of boiled and marinated shrimp. Very simple to make.
You basically add breaded and fried slices of eggplant instead of basil leaves. Serve it over arugula with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette. With the addition of the shrimp it can be served as a luncheon meal or lite dinner.
1 1/2 lbs lg. shelled, deveined and tail on shrimp from your fish monger
1 medium sized eggplant
1 small package of Buffalo Mozzarella
2 nice sized Roma tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
1 package of arugula
Vigo Italian bread crumbs
2 small eggs
lite brown sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons lite brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil
First thing to make is the balsamic vinaigrette. In a blender or Cuisinart. Add your chopped "by hand" garlic. I like to chop it down to a mince and then drop some kosher salt in it and with the flat of the knife. Mash it into a fine paste. Drop it in with your vinegar, salt, pepper & sugar and start a steady mix running. Add your olive oil in a slow, steady stream to the running mixing device. A slow incorporation allows for the dressing to emulsify into a smooth, cafe' latte colored consistency. Once achieved. Shut off your mixer and transfer the dressing to a more suitable mixing container. DON"T refrigerate! There's a reason.
Boiling shrimp is quick and relatively easy . In a small pot. Bring some lightly salted water to a boil. Drop in your shrimp. When they are pink and curled in on themselves. Pull them out and place them in a bowl. While they are still a bit warm. Take a bit of the vinaigrette that you've made and coat them real well. Put them in the fridge to chill. As the shrimp cool and contract. The dressing will be drawn into the flesh. Put your vinaigrette in the fridge now.......
Time for the eggplant. For this recipe as well as eggplant parmigiana. I prefer to keep the skins on my eggplant rounds. It's prettier and it acts as a binder for the flesh of the rounds. One thing people forget to do when frying breaded eggplant. You must always leech out the excess liquid from the cut rounds of eggplant. It's easy. Once you've cut them. You will need a large platter or baking sheet and some paper towels. Lay out your rounds on a layer of paper towels and salt each of them liberally with some kosher salt. Lay another layer of paper towels over the top and lightly press down onto the disks. Allow the eggplant to stand for a 1/2 hour like this. It allows the salt to leech the excess water out of the eggplant and into the towels. Time to fry. Take your 2 eggs and make an egg wash in a small bowl. I like to do an assembly line set up. So, egg, crumbs, frying pan, paper toweled platter to receive the fried eggplant. I like to fry these on medium heat 6 1/2 on the dial. Coat the frying pan bottom liberally with olive oil or vegetable oil. I prefer olive because it's not as heavy and better for you. Fry the rounds until they're golden on both sides and remove. Cut the rounds, cheese and tomato in half for service.
Plating. 1st. Bed of arugula. In a fan out atop the greens. Arugula, mozzarella, tomato. Repeat! Handful of shrimp and a generous drizzle of vinaigrette and you're good to go. Enjoy!
Baked Atlantic Cod over Gouda Grits with pan braised Brussels's Sprouts & Cucumber, Vidalia Onion Slaw
Tonight was a team effort! My partner Charles Edwards has been slow on the mend from a very long bout with intense cancer treatment and post treatment cardiac problems. Two night's ago! He called the menu and I made it. We're both trying to watch what we're eating. Charles because he needs to build his strength and I because I'm on the doorstep of the new 30.........50! I feel great by the way. Save a few hereditary aches and pains.
It was easy! Several steps, but easy.
3/4's of a lb of "fresh" Atlantic Cod from your local fish stand or monger
Dixie brand instant grits
1 small wheel of smoked Gouda cheese
1 package of Brussels's Sprouts
1 small Vidalia onion
1/2 cup flavoured Japanese salad vinegar
salt & pepper
2 small shallow baking ramekins
O.K. 1st you need to prep all of your vegetables. Peel & seed your cucumbers then cut them into thin strips. Peel and grate your carrots. Peel and cut your onion into thin julienne pieces. Next half your Brussels's Sprouts and put them aside for later. Time to prepare your simple slaw dressing. In a coffee mug measure in a 1/3 cup of the vinegar and a table spoon of sugar. Mix until the sugar dissolves. Put your cukes, onion & carrot in a bowl and drizzle your dressing over them. Toss and put it in the fridge till service.
Now it's time for the grits. I use Dixie brand instant. They're quick and get the job done so you can move on to the fish & sprouts. Follow the box directions for the serving quantity you need and grate and whisk some of the Gouda in till completely blended to taste. Set them aside until it's time to bake the fish.
Now the fish. I got really nice 3/4 pound cod fillet at Publix and cut it into 4 small steaks. I like to 1st dredge them in a little flour salt & pepper mixture and quickly pan sear them in a little olive oil before the bake. About a minute and 1/2 each side. Next you want put a nice helping of the grits in the bottom of each of your baking ramekins. Place the seared fillets on top of the grits and put a small dollop of butter on each of the fillets. Salt and pepper and put in a 350 oven for about 15 mins. The last 4 you want to switch the oven to broil. To get the edges of the fish & grits nice & caramelized.
While you're fish is in the oven. Do your sprouts. Little glug of olive oil in a small saute' pan and bring the oil to heat. About 6 & 1/2 on the dial. Throw in your sprouts, a dollop of butter, salt and pepper and toss them periodically until they begin to caramelize. Time to serve.
Top your fish with the Cucumber slaw you made earlier and some lemon zest. Plate everything and eat up!