Today I wanted to go over a dish from our midwinter menu at one of the restaurants I run. Particularly, a dish called “Fresh off the hook”. It is a dish that allows us to rotate a wild caught fish based off of availability and seasonality. In this post, we will navigate everything from the fish recipe, to the inspiration, to the products used.
A Walk Through Of The Dish
The plate itself boasts a pan seared white fish, Rancho Gordo heirloom bean stew (mounted with butter and seasoned with sherry vinegar), crispy parsnip chips, roasted purple cauliflower, freshly shaved purple ninja radishes, and a dry salad of red frill mustard greens, local micro greens including: leeks, green pea shoots, kohlrabi, and cabbage.
Firstly, I always love having a balance of flavors in fish recipes. Therefore, I created this dish to start clean, seduce you into a buttery bean stew, followed by finishing with a lively bite of micro greens.
As a result, all of the flavors marry on your palate. The selection of micro greens was very important when thinking of how to finish this dish.
What Comprises This Fish Recipe
The cabbage and kohlrabi micro greens have such a long and distinct flavor on the palate, as does any brassica (cabbage family plant). This goes really well when lending complements to rich flavors.
The micro leeks play well since there is garlic and onion in the bean stew.
Alliums (the onion family of plants) help prolong flavors on the palate, and even more so the longer they cook. They also play another role in the dish.
With the pea shoots and red frill mustard greens, they provide a sharp bite that starts to mute the flavors of everything else so the fish can carry its flavor throughout and beyond the perfect bite of the dish.
The crisp parsnip chips bring an underlying earthy-sweetness and textural contrast. This contrasts well with the shaved ninja radishes, roasted purple cauliflower, and the creamy interior of the heirloom beans.
The Rancho Gordo beans change from a variety of heirloom beans.
The Micro Greens
The micro greens are from a local hydroponic micro green farm and are living all the way up until we plate the dish. Here is an excerpt from their website:
” Astro Green Farm is a modern, vertical, farm. Using innovative hydroponic technologies we specialize in the production of microgreens grown in an eco-sustainable, PURE growing environment. When we say “PURE” growing environment we mean this: Astro Green Farm is a completely soil free, pesticide free, fertilizer free, GMO free Farm, free from the toxic plastic grow trays used in traditional microgreen production and free from chlorine, heavy metals and bacterial contaminants found in the water used by many microgreen growers. At Astro Green Farm we use only food safe plastic and triple filtered, pure water. The result is a stable supply of the most healthy, flavorful and nutrient dense greens available, ready to feed the urban consumer with with a tiny carbon footprint and no negative impact on the environment.“Astro Green Farm
I love using local products like this. It feels so good to do business with a company that has these sorts of standards.
I strongly urge all of the chefs reading this to line their purveyors up with the standards of you food and vision. Let’s bring the story back to the food.
If you are interested in growing your own micro greens at home, they are super simple!
Here are some SUPER affordable suggestions to start growing and adding these delicious and nutritious ingredients to your daily meals!
- Micro Greens Growing Kit (basic)
- Micro Greens Growing Kit (bigger)
- Growing Guide (book)
- Micro Greens Seeds Mixed (Mixed Seeds)
The Inspiration Of This Fish Recipe
What really inspired this dish was my mother. I was sitting in my office at the end of a busy dinner service and I needed to order beans for our cassoulet entree dish.
While scrolling through the availability on the Rancho Gordo website, I saw “Super Lucky 2020 Black Eyed Peas”.
This instantly brought me back to my childhood. All of a sudden, I was eight years old, walking out to the kitchen, stepping over the dog gate, dodging the cracked tiles, and peering over what the horrendous smell was coming from the stove.
It was New Year’s Day. Moreover, the day after my Mother’s birthday, and she was making her traditional black eyed peas.
I LOVE YOU, MAMA!
An Old Southern Tradition
It is an old southern tradition that the first thing you eat on New Year’s Day are black eyed peas. Along with giving you luck, they are believed to grant you money, and prosperity for the year to come.
Typically, you eat one for each day of the year. I’d usually stomach a couple of mouthfuls before washing it down with kool-aid and sprinting back to my room.
Back To Present Day
Fast forward back to the office. I wanted to jazz up those black eyed peas. Apart from having a sweet name like “Super Lucky 2020 Black Eyed Peas”, they looked gorgeous.
Thus, I ordered them with the idea of using those and other heirloom beans to bring a dynamic excitement to the dish.
Personally, as a Chef, I feel a great responsibility to teach. Whether it be my staff or the community of guests (that for what ever reason decide to eat my food over the other great restaurants in the area).
Indeed, the rotating heirloom beans (each with their own story) are a great conversational piece.
Aside from the artistry from mother nature of hand painting each one, they are great for being a vehicle to teach the differences in cooking times and textures, as well as, a motion in sharing my past and personality on the plate.
The Fish Recipe: How To Make This Dish
Seared Fish with black eyed peas, vegetables, and micro greens
- Small Pot
- Large Saute Pan
Black Eyed Peas
- 1 Pound Black Eyed Peas Dried.
- 5 Each Garlic Cloves Roughly Chopped.
- 1 Each Onion, Yellow Roughly Chopped.
- 1 Each Fennel Diced.
- 4 Tbsp Butter Cold.
- 2 Tbsp Sherry Vinegar
- 1 Bunch Parsley Roughly Chopped.
- To Taste Salt
- To Taste Black Pepper
- To Taste Lemon Juice
Micro Green Salad
- As Needed Micro Greens Assorted/Mixed.
- 2 Handfuls Red Frill Mustard Greens
- 1 Handful Green Pea Shoots
- 1 Cup Cauliflower, Roasted Any color of cauliflower is fine!
- 2 Each Radishes, Shaved Thin Any type of radishes! I used purple ninja radishes.
- 1 Each Parsnip This will be used for parsnip chips.
- As Needed Canola Oil Rice bran, grape seed, vegetable oil is fine. This is for frying the chips.
Pan Seared Fish
- 1 Pound Chilean Seabass Cut into 4 equal portions. You can use any white fish. Halibut, tilapia, grouper, seabass, etc.
- As Needed Canola Oil Rice bran, grape seed, vegetable oil is fine. This is for searing the fish.
Black Eyed Peas
- Start by soaking the beans in water for 8 hours. You need enough water to generously cover the beans, approx. 4 inches above the beans in the container.
- When the beans have softened, drain them and set aside.
- In your small pot, add a little bit of canola oil, the garlic, the onions, and the fennel. Turn on the heat to medium and sweat down until they become translucent. This technique is called sweating and is very common in making beans, soups, stews, etc.
- Add the black eyed peas, and cover the peas with water. There should be nearly an inch of water above the black eyed peas. Add the sherry vinegar and some salt. Reduce the heat to low. Cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, adding water, splashes of sherry vinegar, and salt as you go. Through this process of tasting the beans, you should be tasting for a creamy bean consistency, with a nice and underwhelming acidity from the sherry vinegar, a mild saltiness. Be careful when adding the sherry vinegar. This is only used to "brighten" up the flavor of the beans.
- When you bite into the beans and they are creamy and smooth (on the inside), add your butter, parsley, and lemon juice to finish. Stir the cold butter in with the heat off. This is called mounting. This technique is done in french cooking when finishing sauces such as beurre blancs, meat sauces, or beans in this nature.
- Heat your oil to 350 degrees F in a small pot or saute pan. This should be around medium heat.
- Shave the skin off of the parsnip chips with a peeler. When the parsnip is completely peeled, use a peeler, mandolin, or if you're feeling adventurous, a chef's knife to cut into paper thin chips, strands, planks, etc.
- Add your parsnip shavings to the oil and constantly stir. Fry these until they are golden brown. Remove from the oil and place on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil. Season with salt and set aside.
- Cut your cauliflower into florets. This is a term used for broccoli or cauliflower that is around the size of a quarter or half dollar (for those of you old enough to know what a half dollar is). Season with salt and pepper and sear in a saute pan or in the oven until they are cooked all the way through. Set aside to cool down.
Micro Green Salad
- Trim your micro greens if they are still living on a pad. If not, place them in a bowl. Add the red frill mustard greens, pea shoots, parsnip chips, room temperature roasted cauliflower, and freshly shaved, paper thin, radishes. Mix this together with a sprinkle of salt.
Pan Seared Fish
- For the fish, make sure you have cut the one pound of fish into four equal four ounce portions. Season with salt and set aside.
- Bring a large saute pan up to heat with the canola oil (You want a pan large enough to place all four pieces of fish in with about 2 inches of space between each piece. If you do not have a pan large enough, just use a smaller pan and do this part in batches). Once the pan starts smoking, remove from the heat. Gently tilt the pan toward you so the oil slowly pools around the handle area of the pan. Place your first piece of fish in the top left corner of the pan. Place the second piece in the top right corner.
- Return the pan to the heat so you can regain some of the temperature loss. After 10 seconds or so, do the opposite of what you just did. Remove from the heat and tilt the handle of the pan upward, gently. Place the third piece of fish in the bottom left of the pan, and the fourth in the bottom right.
- ***Chef's Tip***When pan searing meats, seafood, vegetables, etc. it is always best to bring the oil to the smoke point before adding your items. This will keep your items from sticking. to the pan.
- ***Chef's Tip***Notice how we remove the pan from the heat to add the items. This is key to do to avoid dangerous flare up and catching your pan on fire. If the pan catches on fire, it destroys the oil and adds a bad taste to your food. When anything is being placed in such a hot and aggressive environment (such as hot oil), the water will evaporate. We know that oil and water do not naturally mix, so as the water evaporates, it brings the oil with it, causing a pop. The oil in the water vapors can catch on fire, transferring the flame to the pan, causing the pan to catch on fire for a brief second or two. Removing the pan off the open flame with reduce the risk of this.
- Gently press each piece of fish as it is cooking for a couple of seconds. This will remove all of the water on the surface area of the fish so you can have a nice and even sear. Sear on high for the first minute and a half then reduce the heat to medium.
- When the edges of the fish start to brown and you can see the fish cooked 75% of the way, gently check underneath with a spatula. If the face side of the fish has a nice brown color, it is ready to flip. Flip all fish and turn the heat off. The residual heat from the pan will carry the cooking process the rest of the way. This will also develop a more gentle environment for the fish to finish cooking in, resulting in a more tender and juicy final product.
- Start by spooning the beans on the right side of your plate or bowl.
- Place the micro green salad in an arch around the right side.
- Gently remove the fish from the pan with a spatula and place on top of the beans.
Additionally, feel free to use any element in this fish recipe to swap out or combine with 17 OF THE BEST VEGETARIAN MEALS recipes!
Last but not least, if you’re feeling extra generous, please share, like, comment, and repost!