Though vanilla is more popular in desserts, it gives this dish, by Chef Chris Locher of C’Italian Dining in Pampanga, a surprisingly wonderful depth of flavor—a great counterpoint to the spicy, salty, and bitter ingredients present.
(Click for more recipes from Chef Chris Locher)
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cooking Time 30 minutes
For the fish
3 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pinches ground cumin
2 pinches dried oregano
1 pinch chili pepper
500 grams grouper or snapper fillet, cleaned
5 to 6 tablespoons good quality butter, clarified
(see tip below)
extra virgin olive oil, for searing
For the sauce
1/2 cup good quality fish or chicken stock
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons cold butter
salt and pepper to taste
potato hash and Italian broccoli, to serve
1 Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
2 Mix all the spices together in a small bowl. Massage the fish with the clarified butter first then rub the fillet with the spices, making sure it is evenly covered on all sides.
3 Heat a cast iron or oven-safe nonstick pan. Add the fish and sear the flesh side first, being careful not to burn the spices. Turn the fillet over and place the pan inside the preheated oven. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the fish is cooked, being careful not to overcook it.
4 Make the sauce: Combine stock and cream in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Use a paring knife to split the vanilla bean lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds; add both the bean and the seeds to the stock and cream mixture. Whisk in the cold butter to thicken the sauce. Season to taste, remove vanilla bean and set aside for another use. Set aside sauce until ready to serve.
5 Make the potato hash: Peel the potatoes and cut into 2-inch cubes. In a cast iron or oven-safe nonstick pan, heat the olive oil; add bacon and sauté until light brown. Add the cubed potatoes and season to taste. Place the pan inside the oven until the potatoes are golden brown. Add the caramelized onions and fresh sage; continue to brown for another five minutes. Set aside until ready to serve.
6 Make the Italian broccoli: In a pan, heat olive oil and add garlic; sauté until fragrant. Add the sliced kai lan and sauté until they start to wilt (this will take a minute or less). Season to taste and set aside until ready to serve.
Butter tip: To make clarified butter, heat unsalted butter over medium-low heat. Keep at a constant simmer, skimming the white foam off the top. Continue skimming until there is no foam left then take the pan off the heat.
Photography by David Hanson | Produced by Liezl Yap Props from Saizen, Gourdo's, and Living Well
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