The passing of Labor Day has really put my transition from summer to fall MO at full speed, whether or not we still have 85 degree days to look forward to. So, before I really got into the autumnal flavors routine, I had one last hurrah with the summer time goods. Super fresh corn and actually good tomatoes - you'll be gone soon enough, and all too quickly! But seriously, it's kind of sad. This recipe puts forward these A-list ingredients in a bright spotlight, and they sure as hell shine. That being said, check it out, and get your ingredients to make this before it's TOO LATE!
Coconut Crusted Turbot with Pickled Red Onion Summer Salsa
Pickled Red Onion Summer Salsa
3/4 cup white vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
5 allspice berries
5 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 T nigella seeds
a small, dried chile de arbol
1 large red onion, peeled, and thinly sliced into rings (I used a bunch of small red pearl onions)
1 pt heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
1 kernels from one ear of corn
1 T olive oil
1 t nigella seed
Fresh ground black pepper
This recipe obviously makes more pickled red onions than you'll need for the whole recipe, but these are so damn delicious, you'll want some extra. The nigella seeds are a must in this situation - aka "black caraway seeds". These are tiny black seeds that look almost like pitch black sesame seeds - but the flavor is AWESOME. AND, they come from this crazy flower. But most importantly, they remind me of Shy Guy's eyes from Super Mario 2. But enough of this small talk - back to the recipe! In a small, non-reactive saucepan, heat the vinegar, sugar, salt, seasonings and chile de arbol until boiling. Add the onion slices and lower heat, then simmer gently for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let cool completely. For the remainder of the recipe, you'll need ~1/4 C of the pickled red onions and it's pickling juice. Place that 1/4 C into a large mixing bowl. Pour the remainder of the pickled onions in a jar, and refrigerate - these keep for a long while.
Back to the bowl! Toss in the fresh corn and the cherry tomatoes. I like to cut my guys along whatever plane preserves the integrity of the fruit's actual look and shape - so pear shapes still look like pear shapes, cherries still look like cherries, etc. Yeah, I said that. Toss with the olive oil, extra nigella seeds, and season to taste with salt and pepper. So delicious - and beautiful!
For the fish:
2 lbs turbot fillets (no skin), or some other flaky whitefish
Fresh ground black pepper
~1/3 C unsweetened, grated coconut
Season both sides of the fish with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Next, place the fillets (what was) skin side down and coat the top with Wondra Flour. The greatest flour! This helps achieve a nice golden color while sauteing. Heat up a large saute pan or skillet over medium heat. Swirl in a few tablespoons of olive oil and heat up until shimmering. You don't want it to be TOO hot, so watch your temperatures! When the oil shimmers, place the fish fillet, Wondra side down, into the oil. Depending on the size of the fillets and the size of your pan, this may have to be done in batches. Cook the fish until it's golden brown, and flip. With a fish as thin as turbot, it should only take a couple minutes per side to be finished - it all depends on the thickness of your fish though! Remember the Ripert trick with the metal skewer? Do that. Right before the fish is cooked through, sprinkle evenly with the unsweetened coconut. Finish under the broiler, until the coconut is just toasted. Easy enough!
To plate, divide the salsa evenly between four plates...try not to take more for yourself. Finish each with a fillet of turbot - and more nigella seeds if you wish! The nigella seeds take the gold here. So go crazy!
Seriously. This is the best way I can imagine to enjoy the end of the summer, at least in dish form. Celebrate those ingredients! The salsa really stole the show here. Not only is it gorgeous to look at (hello, every color of the rainbow, but also neon?!), but the flavors are outrageous! It's perfectly sweet, perfectly tangy, and perfectly crunchy. A sweetness come from the corn itself, as well as a more subtle sweetness from the tomatoes. Those tomatoes also give a subdued acidity that plays nicely with the punch packed by the pickled red onions. Say that three times fast! Lawd. And the nigella seeds. Don't knock it til you've tried it! Find a package of these seeds immediately! Back to the food. Even though the salsa has a lot of prominent and strong flavors, it still manages to be delicate enough to work with the fish. The flavor of the fish comes through, and is even played up a bit from the coconut - which, in and of itself gives an awesome toasty, nuttiness to the dish all around. Wa-BAM! That's all folks. Make this immediately!