Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Pan Seared Fish with Gazpacho Sauce and Black Olive Tapenade

Every once in a while, I have a dish that turns out perfectly.  It is a dish that fires on all cylinders and, from start to finish, everything falls into place. It is a dish that, once plated, makes me actually look like a chef. This is one of those dishes ... Pan Seared Fish with Gazpacho Sauce and Black Olive Tapenade.

The recipe comes from a cookbook that I bought several years ago.  My beautiful Angel and I visited the Little Inn of Washington for a brief vacation.  We had dinner there, which was perhaps one of the best meals that I have ever had.  The kitchen, and, indeed, the entire inn, is run by chef Patrick O'Connell.  We had the opportunity to meet the chef and, before the trip was over, I had purchased a book of his recipes.  The book is Refined American Cuisine.

That book sat on my cookbook shelf for a very long time.  I have to admit that many of the recipes seemed daunting.  A kind of culinary intimidation, looking at something that I thought was unattainable given I lacked the skills and experience of a chef, let alone a chef of Patrick O'Connell's statute.

I have come to learn that there are emotions more powerful than fear.  One such emotion is love.  My love for my Angel propelled me to open that cookbook and search for a recipe to make for her.  I decided to make Pan Seared Fish with Gazpacho Sauce and Black Olive Tapanade. This dish combines the simplicity of a pan seared fish with the brightness from a gazpacho.  The crust created by the salt and pepper in the pan provides a flavorful start and an interesting contrast to the silky, smooth gazpacho.  The fresh vegetables provide a second contrast to the gazpacho.  All of which is topped off by the earthy black olive tapenade.

It is amazing what one can accomplish when fueled by their inspiration.  My inspiration is my beautiful Angel and it produced a wonderful dish.  Until next time....

Recipe adapted from Patrick O'Connell, Refined American Cuisine
Serves 6

Ingredients (for the gazpacho sauce):
3 1/2 pounds red ripe tomatoes, cored and 
     coarsely chopped
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 sweet onion, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Ingredients (for the gazpacho salsa):
1 tablespoon peeled, seeded and minced tomato
1 tablespoon  peeled, seeded and minced cucumber
1 tablespoon seeded and minced red bell pepper
1 tablespoon seeded and minced green (or orange) bell pepper
1 tablespoon seeded and minced yellow bell pepper
1 teaspoon seeded and minced jalapeno pepper
1 tablespoon minced red onion
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon very finely chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Ingredients (for the croutons):
2 pieces thinly sliced white bread
2 tablespoons black olive tapenade

Ingredients (for the fish):
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 fish fillets, about 3 ounces each, skin on
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Ingredients (for the garnish):
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1.  Prepare the gazpacho sauce.  In a blender or food processor, puree the tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, onion, celery and garlic in batches until smooth.  Strain the mixture.  Add the olive oil, Tabasco, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, cumin, and celery salt.  Mix well and refrigerate.  When the puree is thoroughly chilled, season to taste wtih salt and pepper.  Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve and allow to come to room temperature before serving.  (Note: this makes about 5 cups of sauce but you will only need 1 cup for the recipe.  The rest can be served as soup on the following day.)

2.  Prepare the gazpacho salsa.  In a small mixing bowl, combine the tomato, cucumber, bell peppers, jalapeno pepper, red onion and shallot.  Stir in the parsley, tarragon, celery salt, extra virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate.

3.  Prepare the croutons.  Preheat the broiler.  Cut out six rounds of bread, about 2 inches in diameter, and place them on a baking sheet.  Toast the bread rounds under the broiler on both sides.  Spoon the olive tapenade on the toasts and set aside.

4.  Prepare the fish.  In a non-stick skillet, heat the oil over high heat.  Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper.  Cook the fish, skin side down, for about 2 minutes or until the edges are crisp and golden. Flip the fillets and cook them on the other side for about 30 seconds.  Keep warm.

5.  Finish the dish.  Pour 2 tablespoons of the gazpacho sauce into each of 6 serving bowls.  drizzle a small amount of extra virgin olive oil around the sauce.  Place 1 tablespoon of gazpacho salsa in the center of each bowl.  Place 1 hot fish fillet on top of the salsa and lay 1 crouton of black olive tapenade on each one. 


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