Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Pan Seared Tilapia and Cortez Bay Shrimp with Roasted Raddichio Salad

It has been a while since I tried to create a recipe or make a Chef Bolek Original.  The reason rests with the fact that I have been extremely busy at work.  By the time I get home, I either don't feel like cooking or I just want to make something quick. There were a couple of nights where I tried to make something original and "blog-worthy," except what I ended up with was something straight out of Hell's Kitchen.  As I looked at and ate the dish, I could just picture Gordon Ramsey in the room, screaming and swearing at me or the dish.  "What is that," Ramsey would yell in his Scottish/English accent, "that $#*+ is f*<k!^g disgusting.  I expect more from you."  So, with those thoughts in my head, the dishes never made it to the blog.  That is one reason why I have not been posting as much as I usually do. 

Still, the whole point of this blog is to chronicle the adventures of someone who, unlike Chef Ramsey, has no professional training, no Michelin stars, and no (recent) restaurant experience. Clare tells me that I should post the good, the bad and the ugly, but, quite frankly, while the good looks good, the bad is bad and the ugly can be ... at times ... downright ugly.

My greatest inspiration is my beautiful wife, because much of what I cook, I cook for her.  Recently, I wanted to make a nice dinner for her.  I purchased some Tilapia and some shrimp.  While that satisfied the protein for the dinner, I needed some vegetable or other side dish.  I saw a head of radicchio -- it is hard to miss the pinkish-purplish mass in the midst of greens -- and remembered my effort at grilling radicchio.  Radicchio is a very bitter vegetable, but grilling or roasting it helps to blunt the bitterness.  Add in some roasted sweet onions, along with some shallots and shiitake mushrooms sauteed in butter, and I had the makings of a warm salad. Some toasted pine nuts and walnuts, with whole parsley leaves, would finish the dish. 

As for the shrimp and fish, both are prepared with a simple saute. I wanted the protein to be relatively simple and experiment a little with the roasted radicchio salad.  The salad was good, but still a little too bitter for me.  An alternative that might help to reduce bitterness even further is to baste the radicchio quarters with a mixture of olive oil and butter or just use butter. 

This dish will not win any awards or, perhaps, Chef Ramsey's approval, but Clare liked it.  That is good enough for me.  

A Chef Bolek Original
Serves 2

Ingredients (for the fish):
2 fillets of tilapia
Salt, to taste
Ground pepper, to taste
1 lemon, juiced

Ingredients (for the shrimp):
6 large shrimp (16/20 count)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pinch of aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons of white wine
Salt, to taste
Ground pepper, to taste

Ingredients (for the radicchio):
1 head of radicchio, sliced into wedges and cored
1 sweet onion, sliced into wedges
1 shallot, sliced thinly
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/8 cup of olive oil
2 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons of walnuts, toasted

1.  Roast the radicchio.  Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Lay the radicchio wedges and onions on a large rimmed baking sheet and brush with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes to fifteen minutes, or until crisp around the edges and just tender. Serve at once.

2.  Saute the remaining ingredients for the salad. Heat a saute pan over medium to medium high heat.  Add the mushrooms.  Saute the mushrooms, stirring occasionally so they don't burn, until you begin to draw out the moisture (it will sound a little like hissing).  Add two tablespoons of butter and stir into the mushrooms.  Add the shallot and crushed red pepper.  Continue to saute until the shallot is translucent, about three to five minutes.  Remove from the heat and set aside. 

3.  Saute the shrimp.  Season the shrimp with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Add the shrimp and the aleppo pepper.  Cook the shrimp on each side for a minute or two, and flip, continuing to cook for another minute remove the shrimp and set aside.  Add the white wine and cook for a minute or two. 

4.  Cook the fish.  Add the fish to the pan and begin to saute the fish.  Add a tablespoon of olive oil if necessary.  Saute the fish for about four minutes and flip the fish.  Continue to cook for another four minutes or until done.  When the fish is nearly done, add the shrimp to the pan to heat the shrimp.

5.  Plate the dish.  Plate the fish and place the shrimp on top of the fish.  Plate the radicchio salad on the side.  Drizzle some lemon juice over all of the dish.


This dish calls for a white wine.  While selecting the ingredients for the grilled radicchio salad, I came across a white blend made with Colombard, Gros Manseng and Ugni Blanc.  This wine worked very well.  It had a slight tartness, from the citrusy flavors, that actually worked to reduce the bitterness of the radicchio. I was pleasantly surprised that the wine paired so well with the dish.  So here it is:

40% Colombard, 30% Gros Manseng, 30% Ugni Blanc 
Gascony, France
Flavors of lemon and melons


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