This is an easy dish despite the many elements involved but when it comes to delicious food, it’s the little extras that count. We are in Lent right now and those strictly following Greek Lent should not be eating fish. I am not adhering to Lent in the strictest form but I do try and eat healthy all-year ’round. This fish dish is lean, it’s flavourful and I just know all of you can cook it up!
The first element of this dish is the fish. I chose a nice big flounder fillet – something that will satiate me and cook quickly on my stovetop. The usual Greek flavourings are here: extra-virgin Greek olive oil, sea salt, fresh ground pepper, dried Greek oregano and the unique and ancient spice of Mastiha from the island of Chios. This Appellation of Origin spice grows only on the southern part of Chios and it’s reknown for it’s medical, therapeutuic and culinary applications. If you do a quick search on my site, you’ll find both savory and sweet dishes with Mastiha.
Describing the flavour of Mastiha is not an easy one but here it goes: it’s musky, woody with a slight pine resin flavour to it. Shades of soft incense can permeate your kitchen when cooking with Mastiha. I’ve included ground Mastiha in the flavouring of the flounder and the end result was fabulous! Greek shops here in Toronto will carry Mastiha and you can also order (mail-order to Canada and US) through the web-portal of Masthashop New York.
The next element of this dish is the cauliflower puree. If you’re looking to avoid potatoes in your diet (or at least reduce them), you should try a cauliflower puree. Florets of cauliflower are are simmered in a vegetable broth until just fork-tender and then you simply add the minced garlic, olive oil, lemon juice scallions and seasoning…voila!
Just in case anyone accuses you of making a boring dish, the garnish is quick but colourful and adds more depth to this wonderful fish entree. I pour some red wine vinegar into a small pot along with some slices of red onions and bring to a gentle boil. I simmer the onions until just tender then season with salt and pepper and allow to cool. Remove the onions and allow to drain and if there’s any red wine vinegar left, you can use that for your cauliflower puree!
Mastiha & Cornmeal Crusted Flounder
4 flounder fillets, rinsed and patted dry
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. of ground Mastiha
coarse sea salt & fresh ground pepper
extra olive oil for frying
1 tsp. dried Greek oregano
approx. 1 cup of cornmeal
Pickled Onion, Capers and Sliced Almonds
4 slices of red onions
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup of capers, rinsed
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 head of cauliflower, rinsed and broken down into florets
1 cup of vegetable broth
3-4 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
red wine vinegar to taste
2 scallions, thinly sliced
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- To make the pickled onions, add the wine vinegar into a small pot along with the slices of onions and bring to a boil over medium heat and then simmer for 5 minutes. Allow the onions to cool in the vinegar, season with salt and pepper and then remove the onions with a slotted spoon to keep in tact. Reserve any leftover wine vinegar.
- In a medium-sized pot, add the vegetable stock and cauliflower florets and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and keep covered for about 8-10 minutes or until fork-tender (add more broth if needed). Mash into a puree or use a hand blender, add the minced garlic, olive oil and mix in with a spatula. Add wine vinegar to taste, the sliced scallions and season with salt and pepper to taste. Reserve and keep warm.
- Ensure your fish is patted-dry after rinsing it, brush both sides of the fillet with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, dried Greek oregano and the ground Mastiha. Mastiha usually comes in the form of “tears”, or crystals. To get ground Mastiha, one may place the Mastiha tears in the freezer for a 1/2 hour and either ground them with your mortar & pestle (with some coarse salt) or place in between two sheets of plastic wrap and crush with your rolling pin (my preference).
- Dredge your fish fillets in the cormeal and reserve. Place a large skillet on your stove-top over medium heat and as soon as the pan is hot, add a few turns of olive oil and place the fillets in the hot skillet (cook in batches if need be) and pan-fry for 3-4 minutes a side or until golden (use a spatula to carefully flip the fillets).
- Divide the cauliflower puree amongst your plates then place the fish fillet over it. Place a slice of pickled onion over each fillet and sprinkle some capers and sliced almonds over each fish. Complete the dish with a sprig of parsley and a wedge of lemon.
- Serve a with an Assyrtiko white from the beautiful island of Santorini, like the Domaine Sigalas.
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