Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Swordfish and Cilantro Spring Salad

The last few days have been pretty busy. I have been in the 'production' section of the kitchen, which basically means that I have been prepping food for the school's restaurant. In other words, I have been making stocks, butchering ducks, deboning legs of lamb and cleaning a lot - a lot - of chicken bones.

Making stock has taken on quite a different meaning for me. It is no longer the gentle process of having chicken bones simmer down with water on the stove while I read a book on the couch. Oh no. Stocks are here made for about 200 people, and are made simultaneously: chicken, veal and fish stocks all competing to be the most odorous. The fish stock we made last week, for instance, had 30 bass heads starring back at me while I was trying to skim the fat from the rim of the stock. Fish stock is cruel, very cruel. It must remain clear and transparent in order to be called a good stock, and that means that certain elements must be removed from the stock. Eye balls, when left intact will not harm a stock, but if pierced can render the water cloudy and opaque. The fish eyes must thus be removed one by one....using a melon baller and sharp pairing knife.

Back to more colorful discussions now! I was inspired by Bobby Flay's twist on the classic French 'nicoise' salad and decided to try my own. The colors in the salad were beautiful for spring, and the cilantro proved to be a great last minute addition.

Recipe (for 2 people as a main dish or 4 as an appetizer)

1 swordfish fillet
A handful of green beans
6 fingerling potatoes
A dozen nicoise olives
1 yellow tomato
1 handful of cilantro

3 tablespoons of olive oil + 1 tablespoon for the garlic
2 cloves of garlic
A small handful of cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Start by cooking the potatoes by placing it in a pot of cold salted water. Bring to a boil and leave to cook until tender (about 15 minutes). In a separate pot, cook the beans. They are ready when cooked through but still crunchy. Once cooked, placed in a bowl of ice and cold water to stop the cooking process and allow the beans to maintain their vivid green color.
Brush the swordfish with olive oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium high heat for about 3-6 minutes on each side, depending on the size of your fillet. Once cooked, slice in thin layers.
Thinly slice the tomato and reserve.

Slice the garlic into thin garlic chips. Place the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and add the garlic. Turn the heat to low and stir regularly. When the garlic starts to change color remove from the heat and reserve (this should take a few minutes). Finely chop the cilantro. In a small bowl, add the 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the cilantro and the garlic-infused oil. Whisk and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Assemble the salad by placing the olives, tomato, cilantro, beans and potatoes in a salad bowl. Pour the vinaigrette and gently mix to coat. Add the fish fillet on top. Enjoy!
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