Thursday, February 14, 2008

CSA week eleven - basa with roasted radishes, capers and anchovies

This recipe comes from two sources I normally don't care much for: Martha Stewart and Jamie Oliver. But I doubt Ms. Stewart personally vets every recipe that appears in her magazine and Oliver did prepare his recipe for the Queen so perhaps I can be forgiven for this lapse.

The Stewart recipe I found here and, as you can see, it basically calls for slowly roasting radishes while they soak in bagna couda. I'd be perfectly happy with packing peanuts soaked in bagna cauda so the spicy and flavorful radishes we got in our shares this week are more than adequate.

For Oliver's part, I am attempting an vague approximation of a dish he made in an Iron Chef battle with Mario Batali. The secret ingredient was some obscure bland whitefish which may as well have been cod, really. One of Oliver's dishes was a reproduction of a dish he said he prepared at a state event: fish coated in herbs and roasted on a bed of thickly sliced potatoes and mushrooms. I substituted radishes and onions and probably used different herbs (Parisien Bonnes Herbes in my case. I don't think we ever learned just what Oliver used.) but the main point is the fish lending flavor to the vegetables and vice versa which I do think I accomplished to some small extent.

Basa was my fish of choice as amongst what Publix is offering frozen lately that's what Montery Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch suggests as most ecologically congenial. I buy the frozen fish at Publix as fish frozen on-board the fishing boat is actually fresher than something that's been sitting in a display case who knows how long (and may well have been frozen and defrosted before it got there) and I like Monterey Bay out of the various seafood guides because it does regional guides well suited for aspiring locavores. Their 2007 Southeast guide even has a stone crab on the cover. Unless there's a Florida-specific guide out there, this is the best you're going to do. [Find it at]

Here's the actual recipe

1 CSA share radishes, cut into 1/2 inch slices (the original recipe called for whole or halved radishes but I think what we got is much larger than average)
1 teaspoon brined capers, rinsed and chopped if they're particularly large
3 anchovy fillets, finely chopped (my bottle of anchovies have welded themselves into a solid mass. I used about a Tablespoon.)
2 cloves of garlic, minced (Martha calls for 1/2 clove. My general policy is to double the garlic and add a clove.)
1/2 onion sliced not too thin
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (substitute in some butter for a more bagna-cauda-y effect)
salt and pepper to taste
lemon wedges
1 large or two small fillets basa or other whitefish
whatever herbs you think would taste nice with these other flavors

1. Place oven rack in upper third of oven. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Toss together radishes, capers, anchovies, garlic, onions and oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Spread out on bottom on 8x8" baking dish. Put in oven.

3. Coat fish in herbs, salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil.

4. Bake radishes for 20 minutes.

5. Stir radishes. Lay fish fillets over top. Squeeze lemon wedge over fish trying not to get too much on the radishes which we're trying to dry out a bit so they can soak up the oil. Return to oven for 10 minutes. Check for doneness. (My thin fillets were just barely done at this point so you may need another five minutes. The radishes can take it. )

6. Squeeze another lemon wedge over top and serve with bread to soak up the extra sauce.

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