Monday, April 26, 2010

Parrot Fish Sezchaun Style

This is the fish I bought, named for it's bright blue colors it comes in hues from bright red to this blue.
I bought the fish as soon as he was finished scaling and cooked it soon after. I had the camera to take a photo of the finished dish as it looks so beautiful on the plate, but the battery died and the fish was ready to be eaten. I will give you all the steps to have your fish standing on the plate, drizzled lightly with sauce, it's crispy goodness ready to serve.

1 small whole fish per person (Parrot or your local freshest fish)
All purpose flour for dredging
Peanut oil for frying

Take the fish and with a pair of kitchen shears trim any fins or exterior nasty bits. I trim the tail and cut a slit into at at the level of the mouth.

With a sharp knife cut through the fish 3 slats on each side. Lightly salt on both sides and dredge in flour. Now get your butchers twine and cut a piece long enough to wrap around the fish, wedge the twine in the fish's mouth and bring around looping into the slat on the tail curling the fish and tying tightly.

The fish should stand up on a plate at this point with both sides exposed. If it does not redo the twine tighter until the fish is in a half circle and can stand, this is important to the presentation. Once all your fish are tied and standing put on a sheet uncovered in the refrigerator until time to fry.

The Sauce

3 green onions finely minced
1 clove garlic minced
1 inch piece ginger peeled and minced
1 finely chopped HOT chili
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar

Mix all ingredients and let rest until fish is fried. This is enough to lightly drizzle 4 fish.

If you don't have a deep fryer large enough for up to 4 fish (or as many as you are serving) get a large heavy bottomed pan and fill with enough peanut oil to completely immerse 4 fish. Heat oil to 400 and SLOWLY put the fish in the oil one by one making sure they don't stick together.

Take the sauce and put in a pan and put on a low heat, just to warm it.

Fry the fish for at least 10 minutes, you want crisp, golden and fully cooked and to fully cook it takes longer than you might think. Gently remove with a strainer to a rack to drain, carefully cut and remove the string disturbing as little crust as possible.

Gently lift your beautiful dish  and stand it on plates, light drizzle with sauce over the top of the spine.
Then garnish with
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup finely chopped chives


THIS will impress your guests.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spaghettini Pescatore

One of the many pleasures of being in a new country is the chance to link up with old friends. I went to Santa Domingo to meet with an old friend and his wife. Originally from Italy they live here now and run a successful import/export business.

My head already a sea of languages as I try to immerse myself in Spanish had to go back to Italian. We met for dinner at

Does Santa Domingo have a 5 star Italian Restaurant?

It does and this was a fine meal. The chef did what the best Italian Chefs have always done. He took what was local and made an amazing meal. Inspired by his inspiration I have created a dish that can be made anywhere there is fresh or frozen seafood. There is nothing wrong with the frozen, most shrimp, even those you buy fresh have been frozen. It is often done on the boat and retains the quality and texture.

This meal will require you to make a fish stock. Do not be afraid of this, it is much easier than it sounds. Just follow the steps and you will have success.

Go to your fishmonger and get as many fish heads as he will give you (No Salmon or Tuna) along with two pounds of shrimp, with the heads if you can get them.

Peel and behead your shrimp and place the peels and heads in a pot with a little hot oil. They will quickly turn pink, when they do add a chopped onion, two crushed cloves of garlic and two tablespoons of tomato paste. Lightly brown it and then add 10 cups of water and your fish heads. Turn to a simmer and leave alone for 90 minutes checking periodically. Resist the temptation to add salt as this stock will be very reduced when you turn it into sauce and it can be seasoned at that time.

After about 90 minutes come back and remove the fish heads and bones with slotted spoon leaving the shrimp. Bring back to a boil until you have about 4 cups of liquid. Cool and puree. That's right grind it all up. Then put through a fine sieve so all the large solids are removed.

Simmer and reduce to about two cups.

Keep on a simmer and it will continue to reduce slightly while you make your pasta.

Put a huge pot on to boil with a lot of salt. Grab 1 lb  of Spaghettini.

Slightly less than two cups of strong fish stock
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 anchovies finely diced. 
The shrimp you have retained and if you like some Calamari cut into rings and baby Octopus if available. The amounts can vary.

Once you have added the butter and cream throw in the seafood on a very low heat. Drain the pasta and turn the heat up on your sauce, finish cooking the pasta in the sauce.


Resist the temptation to garnish with cheese, if you would like a garnish a few bread crumbs toasted in butter are enough.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Garlic Frites

One of the great pleasures about being in Farm Country in The Dominican Republic is the food. The produce is absolutely fresh and as in everywhere the soil, the variety and the rain make a difference to the final taste.

California forgive me but the garlic is better than Gilroy Garlic. Gilroy garlic is known for lacking the harsh edge and being very food friendly, but the Dominican is strong and also sweet. Finely chopped or in a paste this is a garlic to be savored....even raw....and paired with the local potato...let's talk.

Most of the restaurants and Villas around here use the frozen french fries. Typically imported from the states, I find they leave much to be desired. The potatoes are of a high moisture content, which is not surprising considering the rainfall. I was not sure how they would fry as locally they are eaten boiled or in a puree for the most part.

 Out comes the knife and once again I am playing with my food.

1/2 large potato per person (Idaho is fine if you can't get the Dominican style)
1 clove of garlic per person finely chopped
1 tsp. of fresh parsley per person finely chopped
Oil for frying

Cut potatoes into fries, if you have a press or a mandolin the job will be easier but it takes only minutes with a knife. Put in a bowl and cover with water and refrigerate for at least an hour.

When you are ready to fry, remove from oil and place in a dry towel to remove excess moisture. Slowly lower into oil at 350 to 375 (Peanut Oil is preferred)

Fry until they are light tan. Take them out and let them rest above the oil. They can rest for 20 minutes or all day. What happens is that the interior of the potato steams this way and gives you a very soft creamy texture beneath the crisp bite. This is the secret the Belgian frites have used for years. When you are preparing for a crowd this is especially helpful as the final fry is so very fast.

Put into a final fry until crisp, when hot sprinkle liberally with salt, drain and toss into a bowl and toss in the garlic and parsley.

Now tell me those are not the best fries you have ever had. They beat those nasty processed McDonald's fries by miles and miles.

Or if you don't want to go to all that work you can vacation here and I will be happy to make them for you.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Crisp Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta for Rhonda

This is one of the simplest and my personal favorite way to make the sprouts. Typically only seen on Thanksgiving tables I guarantee once you have made them this way you will want them again and again.

1/4 pound pancetta (cut into very small pieces)
1 lb. Brussels Sprouts (rough chopped like very large cole slaw)
Olive oil
Balsamic Vinegar

Crisp the Pancetta (bacon can be used if not available) and remove from pan, add a little olive oil and get the pan very hot. Toss in the sprouts and stir them quickly. You want a crisp brown bit without softening the sprouts. This will only take a minute or two. Quickly give a short pour of the balsamic, add the Pancetta back in, toss and serve.