Fishing for compliments

Winter is the best season for cooking fresh fish.

Fillet of tuna with mustard sauce (photo credit: BOAZ LAVI)
Fillet of tuna with mustard sauce
(photo credit: BOAZ LAVI)
It is often in the summer that we feel like having a light dish of fish, served with a salad and a glass of well chilled white wine. But the truly good fishing season is apparently in the winter. So take advantage of what is on offer and make a nice (and easy) fish dish for dinner.
Chef Ethan Sassoon is in charge of the menu at the popular Gootcha chain of restaurants. Gootcha has been part of the casual dining scene in Tel Aviv for a decade, specializing in fish and seafood. Each restaurant in the chain offers a different dining experience, from the American diner style at 14 Ibn Gvirol Street and the hip young Dizengoff place, to the more elegant Ramat Hahayal bistro and the newest one on Nahmani Street, designed like a Parisian fish restaurant. Chef Sassoon gave us a few of his easier and more popular fish recipes to prepare at home. Enjoy!
✔ 500 gr. cod, sliced into “fingers”
✔ 1 cup flour
✔ 1 cup semolina (solet in Hebrew)
✔ 1 cup panko or regular bread crumbs
✔ 1 heaping Tbsp. sweet paprika
✔ Oil for frying Heat oil for deep frying.
Mix semolina and flour, paprika and panko, and dip the fish sticks in the mixture.
Shake to remove excess flour.
Drop into the sizzling oil and cook 5 minutes until golden.
Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.
Serve with potato chips, salt, lemon and your favorite dip.
Serves 4
✔ 300 gr. fillet of white fish, all bones and skin removed
✔ 1 Pink Lady apple, cut into small cubes
✔ Handful parsley or cilantro leaves
✔ 2 or 3 each red, yellow and orange cherry tomatoes, sliced
✔ Lime juice
✔ Olive oil
✔ Salt and pepper
Using a very sharp chef’s knife, slice the fish as thinly as you can and arrange on serving dishes. If the fish is not thin enough, you can cover it with plastic wrap and press with your hands.
Drizzle a little lime juice on the fish, then a few drops of olive oil. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and garnish with parsley or cilantro leaves, apple cubes and slices of cherry tomatoes.
✔ 500 gr. fresh sardines, cleaned and filleted
✔ 500 gr. kosher salt
✔ 1 Tbsp. coriander seeds
✔ 1 tsp. whole peppercorns
✔ 4 red bell peppers
✔ 1 green chili pepper
✔ 1 large mozzarella ball, torn into small pieces
✔ 1 bunch arugula
✔ 1 clove garlic, sliced
✔ 3 or 4 sprigs thyme
✔ Olive oil
✔ Balsamic vinegar
On a tray, arrange sardines skin side down.
Mix together salt, peppercorns and coriander seeds. Cover the fish with the mixture.
Refrigerate the fish for 30 minutes.
Remove from refrigerator and wash the fish. Dry the sardines well with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels.
Transfer the sardines to a container and place the thyme and the garlic slices between the layers. Cover with olive oil.
To prepare the peppers: Roast the peppers in the oven grill or on an open flame until the peel is charred and black. Place the peppers in a plastic bag, close it and let cool. The steam will make peeling the peppers a breeze.
When cooled, peel the peppers, slice into strips and remove the seeds. Season with salt, olive oil and a few drops of balsamic vinegar.
To serve: Arrange arugula leaves on each plate and drizzle a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Remove the sardines from the oil and drain well.
In a bowl, mix together the sardines and the peppers. Add the mozzarella, season with a little salt, pepper and vinegar and toss.
Pile a nice heap of the fish on each plate and serve.
Serves 4
✔ 4 fillets of salmon with skin (about 200 gr. each)
✔ 250 ml. cream (1 container)
✔ 25 gr. butter, cold
✔ 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard with seeds
✔ 1 bunch asparagus
To prepare the asparagus: Cut off the bottom part and discard. If you use thick asparagus, peel the bottom with a peeler.
Boil a large pot of water with salt.
When the water is boiling, blanch the asparagus for 2 or 3 minutes and transfer to cold water to stop cooking. Drain.
To prepare the sauce: Bring the cream to a boil, add mustard and stir. Add 25 gr. butter and stir until it melts. Cook until sauce is reduced and thickens. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Heat oven to 220°.
Grease a pan with a little olive oil.
Season fish with a little salt and pepper and rub each fillet with a few drops of oil.
When oven is hot, place fish in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to serving plates. Place a few asparagus sprigs on each plate and 1 or 2 Tbsp. of sauce.
Serve with potato puree.
Makes 4
✔ 4 tuna steaks, each about 200 gr.
✔ 12 asparagus spears, rough bottoms removed
✔ 1 container cream
✔ 1 Tbsp. crushed black pepper
✔ 1 Tbsp. brandy
✔ A little olive oil
✔ Atlantic salt
Prepare the sauce
: roast the pepper on dry skillet until it releases strong aroma. Very carefully add the brandy and flambé. Cook until brandy is reduced and add the cream.
Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook until the sauce thickens. Season the sauce with salt to taste.
Prepare the tuna steak: heat a heavy iron skillet. Season the fish with salt and pepper and rub with a few drops of olive oil. Sear on the heated skillet for 2 minutes on each side.
Roast asparagus on the same skillet or on another skillet.
Serve the tuna steaks roasted asparagus spears, the sauce and mashed or boiled potatoes. ■
The recipes and the photos are courtesy of Gootcha, the Tel Aviv-based chain of fish and seafood restaurants, and chef Ethan Sassoon.