Seared Branzino with Spicy Thai Vegetables
- 1/3 cup carrot, julienned
- 1/3 cup celery, julienned
- 1/3 cup bamboo shoot, julienned
- 1/3 cup scallions, just the white part, julienned
- 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 2 green Thai chiles
- 2 fillets of branzino, skin left on
- approximately 1/8 cup rice flour
- approximately 3 tablespoons cooking oil: safflower, peanut or other with smoke point above 420°F
- approximately 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon Westerly Sauvignon Blanc
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce, in two parts
- 1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon Thai oyster sauce
- cooked white rice
- 1/3 cup cilantro leaves, for garnish
Julienne the carrot, celery, bamboo shoot and white part of the scallions. Mince the ginger and garlic. Slice the chiles in half and deseed.
Pat the fish dry with paper towels. Dust lightly with rice flour on both sides. With a sharp knife, cut three diagonal slits across the middle of the skin, leaving the edges intact.
Coat the bottom of a cast iron or sauté pan with a thin layer of cooking oil and heat until hot but not smoking. Place the fish, skin side down in the pan; it should sizzle. Turn heat down to medium low and cook until the skin is browned. Flip the fish over and cook for a minute or just until it just starts to firm up. It will continue cooking a bit after being removed from the heat, so do not overcook. Remove from pan and cover lightly with foil to keep warm.
Skim the bottom of a sauté pan with sesame oil and sweat (cook without browning) the ginger, and garlic. Add the wine, 1/2 tablespoon of soy sauce, fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, oyster sauce and Thai chile. Turn up the heat until the liquid is at a low boil with small bubbles and reduce by a third. Add the scallion, carrot, celery and bamboo shoot and cook briefly until slightly softened but still retaining good texture. Adjust seasoning, using the rest of the soy sauce if needed (it’s easier to add saltiness to the dish than take it out!).
Plate the rice, the vegetables and the fish, pouring the sauce over the fish at the end and garnishing with fresh cilantro. Serve with the Westerly Sauvignon Blanc.
–recipe and photo courtesy Tama Takahashi