Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Apr 9, 2013

Whitefish with Fennel & Onion Sofrito

Libations used: 1/2 cup white wine...
Libations left over: Pretty much the whole bottle, so serve with dinner...
For those of you who freak out about the idea of cooking fish, sometimes cooking it in the oven is a more foolproof way for unpracticed cooks.  This Mackerel recipe from Food 52 was a Community Winner and is topped by a flavorful fennel and onion-based sofrito, which is basically a sauce of chopped-up veggies and tomato.  If you can't find Mackerel, which isn't in these parts, any whitefish is fine.  I opted for an inexpensive, but tasty Tilapia from Santa Monica Seafood.  I also cut the recipe in half, as I was only cooking for myself.  Feel free to follow Food 52's version to make enough for four.  I kept the same amount of tomato and olives and left out the currants to give it a more savory flavor.  Serve with some fresh green beans or snow peas.

Whitefish with Fennel & Onion Sofrito - serves 2
  • 2 six oz whitefish filets (I used Tilapia)
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 fennel bulb, julienned
  • 1 large yellow onion, julienned
  • 1 Tbs garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
  • 3/4 cup fresh tomato pulp (run a tomato across a box grater)
  • 1/3 cup green olives, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs pine nuts, toasted
  • Pinch of fennel seeds, for garnish
- Season the fish on both sides with a generous amount of sea salt and let the filets chill in the fridge for about an hour.
- In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add enough olive oil to cover the bottom in a thin layer.
- Add the fennel, onion and garlic and season with some salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Cook the vegetables until they're soft and caramelized, about 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with foil and drizzle some olive oil on top.
- Season both sides of the fish filets with black or white pepper and place on the baking sheet.
- Place the lower rack in your oven, about 4-6 inches from the bottom of your oven and turn the broiler on.
- Depending on the size of the fish, you'll need anywhere from 4-12 minutes.  I needed 12 as it took a bit for my oven to heat up.  Just cut through the thickest part to check for doneness - the fish should be flakey and white.
- Add the white wine to the sofrito and reduce the liquid to a couple of tablespoons.
- Add the tomato pulp and cook until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed.
- When the fish is done, spoon some of the sofrito on top and garnish with a pinch of fennel seeds.