Sunday, June 22, 2008

Saturday : Fish steamed on lettuce, fennel and tomato salad

We have a mountain of lettuce in the fridge, so last night's main course needed to involved cooked lettuce. I decided something inspired by a Bittman recipe I remember (but can't find) for fish fillets cooked on top of lettuce. The fish I used was Pintado, which I've seen in the Coop before but hadn't gotten around to trying. The fillets were really attractive and promising. At the time I bought them I didn't know that pintado is a type of farmed catfish.

For the dish itself, I started some minced garlic and shallots in a pan with olive oil, added some diced red onion and let it all cook for a bit. Then I added the lettuce, some finely chopped lemon thyme, a splash of white wine, a pinch of salt, and stirred. After topping the lettuce with the fish I covered the pan and let it steam until the fish was done.

The lettuce was nice. The fish was not: it had the usual flabby texture and somewhat muddy flavor of farmed catfish combined with a thick layer of fat underneath the skin that I just found revolting. Ah well, live and learn.

In addition to our obligatory green salad, I made a tomato and fennel salad from a recipe in this month's Le Menu: Arrange very thinly sliced tomato and fennel on a plate. Drizzle with a dressing made from cider vinegar, rapeseed oil, mustard, and fresh basil. Top with a fine streusel made by roasting flour, butter, salt, and minced basil in a pan until light brown. The use of basil was a substitution: the recipe called for peppermint, but we don't have a couple of beautiful peppermint plants on the terrace. :-)

The salad was really good. It's also easy and somewhat elegant looking, so worth keeping in mind for entertaining.

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