Saturday, 24 January 2015

Pan fried fish with lemon, caper and avocado salad

Another great dinner.

This is another meal my FiL joined us for - so it was only right that we paired it with 2012 Watershed Savignon Blanc Semillion from the Margaret River in WA.

Substitutions / Omissions / Deletions:

This was one of the more difficult menu items to shop for - on our original shopping day, we could not find endive, witlof or radicchio at all, and I scoured half a dozen supermarkets and green grocers from Waurn Ponds to Newcomb to Corio (while in the area for other errands) without any luck. Finally, I came across baby endive at the Pakington Strand Woolies the day before we were planning to make this meal.

I was looking through the salad items in the fridge to find a substitute for the other items, when my partner discovered that the avocado we had was beyond saving. As we were missing so many ingredients for the salad, I ran out to the supermarket to grab another avo, and was delighted to discover witlof at the same supermarket.

We ended up making the salad without the radicchio - it meant the meal didn't look quite as colourful as the pic in the magazine.

Rather than purchase fresh red snapper for this meal, we used some nile perch fillets we had in the freezer.

The only other omission was for FiL - he abhors fennel in all its forms, so we didn't crust his fish before cooking.

The main ingredients for our salad - baby endive, witlof, avocado and lemon.

Prep tips:

I started grinding the coriander and fennel seeds in a small mortar and pestle, before I remembered we had been given a small silver Turkish spice grinder by the in-laws after one of their many trips abroad. This made quick work of the seeds. If you don't have a spice grinder, you could always try using a coffee grinder, or mini blender to speed up the process.

Things to do differently next time:

The things I'd do differently next time are really so much to do with the cooking, but more with the logistics of the ingredients. We didn't end up doing this meal until almost a week after we went shopping. In the magazine, it is the first meal of the week, but as we aren't big fish eaters (with the exception of salmon for me, and seafood for my partner), we left this until later in the week. The next time we go shopping and it has avocado on the list, we would check which menu item had the avocado, and then decide whether to buy it on the weekend, or pick it up later in the week. 

Also, when I took the fish out of the freezer to defrost, I took out more than we needed as I thought it was all in the same packet. Too much fish was defrosted, and as I said my partner and I aren't big fans of fish fillets so eating fish again for dinner after this meal isn't really something we want to do. Luckily, my partner has a plan to make some Thai fish cakes with the leftover fish.


Taste - The quote of the night came from FiL, who commented "With meals like this, who needs to go out to eat!" FiL really enjoyed his fried Nile Perch, sans spices, and loved the addition of whole lemon wedges in the salad. 
My partner and I weren't as keen on the lemon wedges, but when cut up and eaten with other salad items they added a nice zing to the salad. The capers also added a sharp tang when you ate one of those. It was the first time I knowing had endive and witlof in a salad. If I had to make a comparison, I'd say that you could easily substitute rocket and cabbage for these ingredients if you had trouble finding them.
The fish was fantastic! The spices fried up into a nice crust, and the aniseed flavour of the fennel nicely complemented the Nile perch.
Ease - This meal was fairly easy to throw together - it was harder to find the ingredients than put them together to make a meal! 
If you're keen to get more fish in your diet, this is a very tasty way to prepare it with little effort.
Time - The prep time took a little longer than stated in the recipe, but as my partner pointed out, half of the prep is already done before the recipe starts. The ingredients list the spices already ground, the endive washed and the avocado sliced. It is getting the food at this level of readiness that adds the extra time to the recipe.

Would I make it again?

Yes! We had endive, witlof and avocado left over, so my partner was planning to make the salad for an Australia Day BBQ we had on the weekend. (Unfortunately for our guests, we ran out of time, but did have three other salads to serve them.) 

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