My younger brother Brad is coming over for dinner. He is the resident computer guy in the family and is loading a much needed program for me – Photoshop! I was thinking today about what I wanted to make him for dinner. He and I are both doing what we can to eat healthy, so I thought a creative fish entrée with a side of sautéed zucchini would be perfect. I must confess I’m extremely intimidated by cooking seafood in general. When I stumbled upon a snapper recipe from the restaurant Quattro at the Four Seasons Hotel in Houston, I knew that tonight was the night for me to take on this challenge. Let’s begin!
I prefer white flaky fish that is mild in flavor, so I choose two halibut fillets from Whole Foods.
This is what I used to marinade the fish: olive oil, lemon zest, salt, pepper, Mediterranean blend spices (sea salt, dried garlic, oregano, chiles, lemon peel)
I dump everything in a zip top bag and let it rest so all the flavors can meld together.
The topper for the fish before we throw it in the oven is going to be this lovely tapenade. Ingredients include a handful of pitted kalamata olives, 1 tablespoon of capers, 1 tablespoon of garlic, lemon zest, ¼ cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons of parmesan, freshly ground pepper, and 1 tablespoon of cognac. I decided not to add the sun dried tomatoes after I took this picture.
After I tossed everything in the cuisinart and blended it together I think to myself that this definitely does not look appetizing, the olives made it a black paste. The taste however isn’t too bad. The olives and capers made it quite salty and I’m not sure I like the parmesan cheese in the mix. Maybe once it is melting on top of the fish the cheese will add a nice creaminess. I think I may only use a teaspoon smeared on the top of each fillet. It’s a potent tapenade! Next I must figure out a way to use up the rest of this concoction in future dishes. Any ideas? Leave me a comment with thoughts.
Sear fish on both sides in a very hot skillet and remove from heat. This only takes a few minutes to get the golden crust I’m looking for.
Next, top the fish with a bit of tapenade and finish baking in a 350 oven for about 20 minutes.
While the fish is baking in the oven, lets prepare the zucchini. I’m going to simply slice the zucchini and sauté in olive oil with a sprinkle of the same Mediterranean spice blend as I used with the fish marinade. I feel like this will really bring the flavors of both dishes together.
I like the idea of doing sauces using pan drippings, so I remove the fish fillets from my skillet and add chopped shallots and garlic.
It looked a little thin so I sprinkled some flour over it. I’m planning on serving a nice napa valley chardonnay from Benziger tonight with the fish so I’m going to spill 1/2 a cup of this chardonnay into the pan to deglaze and simply let it reduce by half while I stir up all the drippings and brown bits. It looks good! The taste test. Aweful! This stuff taste just terrible! Don't know what I did wrong, I was following my gut here and it just didn't work.
The end dish was simple, but very flavorful. The tapenade wasn’t as salty once baked, but provided a nice crust with good layers of flavor on an otherwise mild fish. I think 20 minutes in the oven is too long for the fish though, it just wasn’t as moist and buttery as I would have preferred. It was still delicious enough for my brother and I to eat every bit of it, but I think the long baking time dried it out. The zucchini was a really nice healthy addition to this meal. I purposefully left off a starchy side and opted for a hefty helping of veggies, and they were sautéed until tender crisp – just the way I like them.
The next post will be a delightful sea bass recipe a co-worker of mine passed along. The homemade marinade consist of brown sugar, soy, jalapeno and garlic!