OK – lesson learnt on this one. Bad food presentation = bad photograph. I flooded the plates with the puree. It tasted amazing, but looked, er, pretty bad. This obviously limits the photographs you can do – you don’t want to show a moat of puree! In future I would put down just enough puree to seat the vegetables in.. Oh well.
So this dish is somewhat inspired by a recent trip to Portland. Yep, that is why I haven’t posted anything in a while. Danika and I were in Portland, Oregon. Without our 14 month old son, Drake. His grandparents had him. So what did we do in Portland? Slept in (8am!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! impossible when you have a toddler), shopped like crazy, and ate extremely well. The food scene down there is great – when looking at restaurants for the weekend, it seemed like almost all were dedicated to local producers, and most were pretty much all organic. That obviously doesn’t mean all that much is the food is dodgy, but it wasn’t. We were there for two nights, and in those two days we ate some of the best food I have had in a long time, eating out. The first night I had a great lamb dish that was just a rack of lamb, lamb jus, and roasted potatoes. Sounds so simple, and it was. It was bloody fantastic. Perfectly cooked lamb, a jus that I would happily drink buckets of, and good potatoes. Second night was a dish of black cod, kale, butternut squash puree, and topped with some Oregon foie gras. Again, a spectacular dish, that quite honestly didn’t need the foie gras – the black cod was rich enough to carry the plate easily.
So, anyhow. Back to this dish. It is somewhat similar to a scallop dish that Danika had when I was chomping my way through the black cod. Her scallop dish tasted amazing, even though there was some slight grit still in the scallops. Normally something like that ticks me off (to say the least), but it didn’t matter this time – everything was bloody incredible, this oversight was OK. Just.
So, where did we eat?
First night (lamb): Lucy’s Table http://www.lucystable.com/
Second night (black cod, foie gras): Ten-01: http://www.ten-01.com/
Which was better? Ten-01 (even though I hate the name). The wine woman (I don’t like the term Sommelier) was incredible, as too was our waiter. The food was completely awesome. It was a decent atmosphere, with stellar food, even though there was grit in the scallops. Something I would never accept normally.
We tried to get in to Le Pigeon, but when phoning for a reservation I was met by an extremely arrogant woman, that had complete delight in telling me that they were booked up, and in the future I should call much more than 5 days in advance. Muppets. Eating out is about good food (which Pigeon I am sure has), as well as service – and this woman sucked at service.
Right, I have digressed enough – what on earth is this dish. Well, pretty bloody simple really. The fennel puree was quick to make, and the chorizo and brussels took no time at all. This was finished with a good glug of good quality balsamic vinegar, which deglazed the pan and helped add some richness. The black cod was simply popped under the broiler for about 12 minutes. The almonds add a good crunch and enhance the smokiness of the sausage and smoked paprika.
So some flavors of spain (two kinds of paprika and chorizo sausage) combine with northwest ingredients here to produce a fantastic homage to the end of winter..
Black cod, chrorizo, brussels and toasted almonds, fennel/paprika puree
3/4lb Black cod fillet – center cut, cut into two
1 large handful of brussel sprouts
1 chorizo sausage
2 cups of chicken broth
1 small handful of whole almonds
2 large bulbs of fennel
1 tablespoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
3 tablespoons of good quality balsamic vinegar
Start by making the fennel puree. Cut off the feathery tops of the fennel (save if you wish – they feathery leaves are actually great herbs), and slice off the root. Remove the outer layer and discard (it will be tough, and most likely beat up). Slice the fennel into 1/4″ slices, then chop those slices coarsely. Peel the shallot, and coarsely chop. In a medium saucepan over a medium heat get a tablespoon of olive oil hot. Add the fennel and shallot, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until slightly soft, and starting to turn brown – about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of chicken broth to the pan. If it doesn’t just cover the vegetables, add a little more until it does. Add the paprika (not the smoked). Stir, then let this simmer with the lid on for about 20 minutes.
Whilst this is cooking, prep the brussels. Remove the outer layer, and cut off the stem. Cut them in half, lengthways through the stem end. Repeat for all of em. Slice up the chorizo sausage into 1/8″ slices crossways.
In a small saute pan over a medium heat, toast the almonds until brown, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool, then slice them in half, discarding any shell/skin that might come off em.
When the fennel is pretty soft, remove from the heat and allow to cool a bit. Bung this into a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. Return to its cooking pan, and add the smoked paprika. (make sure you buy the sweet smoked paprika – the hot kind will be way too overpowering for this dish). Let this simmer with a lid on over a low heat whilst everything else cooks.
Preheat your oven’s broiler, and place the fish, flesh side up in a baking pan. Bung this under the broiler for about 12 minutes, until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily.
Whilst this is cooking, get some olive oil hot in a large saute pan. Add the chorizo and brussels, and cook until the chorizo is cooked through, and the brussels golden. Toss in the almonds. Turn up the heat, and add the balsamic vinegar. It should bubble, reduce, and smell fantastic. Turn the heat off under it, put a lid on, and let it sit for a couple of minutes.
To plate – spoon some of the puree into the center of a plate, and top with the brussels/chorizo/almond mixture. Pop the grilled fish on top of this.
Ohh, congrats you made it to the end of the post. The reward? A top tip for a great lighting store on the west coast – http://www.luxlights.com/ We picked up a couple of fantastic modern pendant lights to complete the renovation. We had been looking for months in Seattle, and found nothing. Until we headed down to Portland that was!