This is a hard sell. I totally get it. Who looks at a fish and greens dish and thinks, “MMMMM! Delicious! I think I’ll make this for my next dinner party!” No, when there is a Polar Vortex knocking at your door and recipes of braised short ribs and french onion soup abound, I can believe you aren’t hanging out at the fish counter for either yourself or any impromptu social gatherings.
Good sense would then dictate that I should save this recipe. Maybe stick in in the “Cookbook Recipes” file on my computer and just let it wither there until we needed it for our fish chapter. I’d then pull it out, dust it off, try to remember where I put the photos and stick it all together as Fish Recipe #8. I just couldn’t do it though and I’ll tell you why: This is the best fish dish I have made in a looooong time. Maybe ever.
The idea first came in the form of a recipe from Bill Granger, an Australian chef, restaurateur and cookbook author, but when I used his recipe exactly my fish ended up sort of ripped to shreds and the sauce was good but not quite pungent enough. So I worked on it. I added a few more ingredients, took some away and then borrowed a fish technique from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home cookbook (if Thomas Keller says it’s good, well, yeah, it’s good). After a few more tweaks and a few attempts with different fish we ended up with an absolute stunner of a dish.
So I know it’s hard. I know you don’t want to cook fish at this very moment. I implore you, however, to give it a shot. Put on your warm furry boots, pull down your hat, get your warmest scarf on and go to the fish counter. Together we can will Spring to sachet in through the front door and send the polar vortex packing out the back. This dish can do it.
- 3 tablespoons safflower oil (or other high heat oil)
- 12 oz (375 g) firm fish with skin, cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces.
- 2 cups sushi rice
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) sesame or peanut oil
- 1/4 cup (40 grams) finely chopped fresh ginger
- 8 green onions cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) lengths
- 1 bunch (175 g) broccoli rabe cut into 1/2-inch (1.25 cm) or bite-sized pieces
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) soy sauce
- 1 heaping tablespoon (25 ml) brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon Mirin (rice cooking wine)
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) kosher salt
- 1 lime, juiced and zested (about 2 tablespoons of juice)
- Cooked fish
- Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C
- Cook the sushi rice according to directions on the packet. Set aside but keep warm.
- Heat two large oven proof saute pans over medium high heat. Add half of the oil to each and continue to heat until the oil is shimmering. Place the fish into the pan, flesh side down. Let it cook for 5 minutes. Don't move them around at all during this time.
- After 5 minutes, place the saute pans into the oven. Let them cook in the oven for about 3 minutes.
- After 3 minutes, return the saute pans to the stove and place over medium to medium-high heat. Turn the oven down to 200°F/93°C.
- Using an offset spatula, flip each individual piece of fish so that the skin cooks for a brief moment. By the time you are finished flipping each piece of fish, it will be time to remove the first pieces from the pan. At this point each piece of fish will have cooked for about 60 seconds on the skin side.
- Place the fish on a cooling rack set inside of a baking tray. Once all fish is on the cooling rack, put the rack and tray into the oven to keep warm.
- Wipe out (but don't fully clean) one of the pans you used for the fish and heat the peanut or sesame oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add ginger and stir-fry for 1 minute or until the ginger begins to brown. Add the broccolil rabe, green onions, fish sauce, soy sauce, lime zest, sugar and salt and gently sauté for about 4 minutes or until the broccoli rabe has cooked and wilted. (Don't worry if your pan is super full at the start. The broccoli rabe shrinks down to about a quarter of its raw size)
- After the broccoli rabe is cooked, turn the heat down to medium and remove the fish from the oven. Fold the fish into the greens using a rubber spatula. Mix it quickly and gently taking care not to break up the fish.
- Add lime juice and serve immediately with steamed sushi rice.
- Get all of your mis en place together. Once this starts cooking you need to have everything ready to throw in and you'll want to serve it immediatley.
- You can, of course, use brown rice or jasmine -- or really any kind of rice. I like sushi rice for this because it is a little sticky and I like that consistency.
- This is a 15 minute dish that is full of flavor and is an absolute crowd pleaser. I use red snapper, red fish or baramundi but you could also use halibut, black cod or salmon. Make sure to leave the skin on so the fish doesn't break up.