Recipe of the week: Pan-fried line fish on warm Nicoise salad, parmesan cream sauce and leek angel hair

This dish is an adaption of the traditional Nicoise salad and was originally made in South Africa using the kob fish (kabeljou), a well-known saltwater fish that is readily sourced from local fishing villages. Wild sea bass would also work well as an easily sourced responsible alternative for those living in the northern hemisphere. Soft quail eggs can also be placed on top of the fish for variation.

Kwande dish

Ingredients

For the fish

800gms fish fillet – deboned and cut into 4 equal portions
Salt

For the warm Nicoise salad

12 sugarsnap peas
1 red Onion, top and tailed, cut in half and in segments
12 olives – remove pips if necessary
12 cherry tomatoes
1/8 cup chopped herbs (chervil, dill, coriander)
Olive oil for frying

For the parmesan cream sauce

1 onion
1 clove garlic
60g butter
300ml cream
100g grated parmesan cheese
5ml Whole grain mustard
Salt
Squeeze of lemon juice

For the leek angel hair

1 leek, cut in halve and finely julienne
Clean oil for deep frying

Directions

For the fish

Score the skin with a very sharp knife; each portion should have 2–3 neat scores on the skin, then salt the skin. Pack the portions, skin-side down on paper towel. Wrap and refrigerate.

For the parmesan cream sauce

Finely chop 1 onion and sweat in butter with 1 clove of crushed garlic. Add the cream and reduce. Then add the parmesan cheese and mustard. Mix well and season with salt and lemon juice. Strain. Add cream to correct consistency if necessary.

For the leek angel hair

Quickly deep fry the julienne leeks in hot oil until crispy, take out of the oil and drain on kitchen paper.

20 minutes before cooking: remove the fish from the fridge. Discard the paper towel. Salt the skin again and leave open, skin-side up, to dry the skin as much as possible.

To cook the fish

Heat a heavy based pan (with no oil in the pan) until the pan is smoking hot. Pat dry the skin of the fish with paper towel. Pour 15ml of oil into the hot pan and spread. Place the fish carefully into the pan skin side down and allow to sear the skin until the skin is crispy and brown. Once the skin is crispy flip the fish to brown the flesh. Place on a baking tray with a knob of butter and finish cooking in the oven if it is a thick piece of fish or just finish cooking it in the pan if it is a thin piece of fish.

To cook the salad

Warm a sauté pan with a drop of olive oil. Add the salad and sauté until cooked through, add a pinch of herbs at the last moment and season with salt. Place the salad neatly in the middle of a hot pasta bowl and top with the fish – skin side up. Drizzle the parmesan cream sauce over the fish and a little around the fish, scatter parmesan shavings. Top with the leek angel hair and serve immediately.

Thank you to Bongi Basi, Junior Chef at Great Fish River Lodge, Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, for the recipe.

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