It’s 2010 and Greece is pretty well wired with the rest of the world and depsite the distance from Toronto to Greece (9 1/2 hour flight), the interwebs has brought the diaspora closer to the Patrida. One of my friends in Greece recently sent me some cooking magazines & booklets and one of them was sponsored by a major Greek supermarket chain. In this issue, they were promoting some ingredients through featured recipes. What was refreshing is that no supermarket brands of sauces, condiments or other processed short cut was contained in the recipes.
In addition to the recipes being wholesome, they were also provided by some of Greece’s current star chefs. This fish dish was created by chef Myrsini Lambraki, a native of Crete and her style is to feature lighter dishes with an eye towards healthy eating (a testament to her Cretan upbringing and diet).
This dish was the second one I’ve had where there’s no carb in the ingredient list. Protein and vegetables or in this case, fish and green beans. The other dish I had was chicken thighs and green beans and I’m still surprised and delighted that both dishes were filling. I also like that one can sneak in some good homemade bread to mop up some sauce and clean the plate.
This dish by and large followed Myrsini’s recipe but I’ve altered the technique and adjusted the amounts of some of the ingredients. What remains is a wholesome, very healthy dish: a fillet of grouper (any other white-fleshed fish with also do), green beans, garden fresh scallions and fresh fennel, wine, and a little organization.
This dish comes together in three steps: blanche the greens beans, pan-fry the fish fillet and then make the sauce. After the sauce is ready, one simply has to add the beans, toss to coat them in the sauce and then add the fish back into the pan to warm through. Simply plate the beans in your plate with the fish on top and pouring some of the sauce over it.
I’ve chosen to pull this dish together in the above manner as I like my beans to remain green, still firm (not limp), the fish is lightly dredged in all-purpose flour and perfectly pan-fried in a skillet without fear of the protein sticking to the pan and the sauce comes together afterwards in the same skillet.
One of the biggest fears in the kitchen is sauteing your protein in a skillet without the fear of it sticking in the pan. Fear no more, what this excellent video clip on knowing when your pan/skillet is at the proper heat for sauteing. To Saute in French means “to jump” and in cooking terms, its a method of cooking in a shallow pan with a little amount of fat over relatively high heat. In the video, the instructor demonstrates how to tell when your pan is not hot enough, too hot and ultimately has reached the ideal temperature to saute your protein without fear of it sticking to the pan. Watch the video, bookmark it, save it and apply and this technique to your cooking skills.
Again, watch and save this clip, “How to properly heat your pan”.
Now, you can prepare this dish without the fear of any protein sticking to the pan. Nevermind that non-stick skillet, take out that flashy stainless steel skillet, cook with confidence and get on with making this real easy, delicious and economical fish dish.
Grouper With Beans (Ροφός με φασολάκια)
(recipe adapted from Myrsini Lambraki)
4 grouper fillets (or other white fish)
flour for dredging
coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1 kg. of fresh green beans, stems snipped
2 bunches of fresh scallions, sliced
1 cup of sliced fennel
3-4 large cloves of garlic, sliced
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 tsp. of Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp. of chopped fresh fennel fronds
1 Tbsp. of chopped fresh dill
juice of 1/2 lemon
lemon wedges for garnish
- Break off the stems from your beans and rinse. Place a large pot of water on your stove-top and bring to a boil. Add a good amount of salt to the water and then add your beans. Once the water has returned to a boil, simmer for 6 minutes. Strain, place in a bowl of ice-cold water and once cool, strain and reserve.
- Rinse your fish fillets and pat-dry. Season with salt and pepper and lightly dredge in all-purpose flour. Pre-heat your skillet to a medium-high heat. Once your skillet has reached the proper heat, add a couple of glugs of oil and place your fish in the skillet. Cook on each side for 2-3 minutes a side and reserve. Cook fish in batches if necessary.
- In the same skillet over medium heat, add the remaining olive oil plus the sliced scallions, fennel and garlic. Add some salt and pepper and cook while occasionally stirring for 5 minutes. Add the mustard and stir to blend in and then add the white wine, the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
- Now add the reserved green beans, lemon juice and chopped fresh fennel fronds and dill and gently toss to coat with the sauce. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and place the fish on top of the bean mixture. Cover, turn the heat off and allow the fish to warm through for five minutes.
- Divide and plate with a fillet of fish on a bed of green beans and pour some of the pan sauce over top. Served with some crusty homemade bread and a Manousakis Nostos Rousanne white.
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