The Washington Times - May 20, 2008, 07:31PM

Donne Tempo’s Rock Fish Masquerade

by Jacquie Kubin

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Editor, Donne Tempo Magazine

Around our house, fish has become more of a staple food than a once in a while dish.  But I am always looking for a new way to create fish that is mild, but still has great flavor.  A recent result is my Rockfish Masquerade, a dish that has the richness of lobster at the price of Rock Fish!  

I like the meatier white fishes with lots of oils because they are harder to dry out in cooking.

This dish does take a few steps, but all are well worth the final dish.  And you can invite your dinner mate to join in the fun as you chop the fragrant cilantro and release the smells from the pineapple, tomatoes, peppers and, of course, Tequila.

This is also a great dish because you can modify it and make it your own. 

First the Salsa.  It can easily be made ahead of time, so that can be a time saver.  But don’t make it too far ahead.  You want the flavors to stay distinct.  If it sits overnight, it becomes one flavor.

In my opinion, any protein, but particularly fish tastes best when allowed to sit to room temperature before cooking.  With fish, however, you need to be a bit more cognizant of the amount of time.  The filet should still be cold to the touch when you cook it, not quite room temperature.   

This is a great time to add your marinade to the fish, which should be rubbed in, not soaked in, and allowed to sit for about 15 minutes.  Soaking or bathing could overpower the flavor of more delicate white fishes.

Corzo Respado Tequila and Grilled Pineapple Salsa

1 Red sweet peppers (Any red pepper will do, but the sweeter the better.  Chose a smaller peper over a larger one.)

1 Sweet onion (Again, the smaller the sweeter).

   Olive oil (Organic, virgin, pressed is always the best)

   White balsamic vinegar (You can also use a champagne vinegar, but for this dish try to find the White Balsamic.  You will fall    in love with it.)

1/4 cup Chives, chopped

1/4 cup Cilantro, chipped

2 cups Fresh Pineapple

15-20 Cherry Tomatoes 

1/2 Lemon/lime

1/2 cup Assiago shredded cheese

Sea salt

1oz. Corzo Respado Tequila

2 slices Thick Bakers Bread, buttered and toasted (can be done ahead of time).

 

Grilled Pineapple Salsa

Heat 1/2 tablespoon of oil in the bottom of a sturdy skillet and add the chopped onions, red pepper and pineapple.  Cook being careful not to turn the onions or peppers black, but you want the pineapple to grill, turn dark brown on the edges to bring out the flavor.  

When the pineapple begins to change color, add cherry tomatoes and sautee so that they begin to warm, but do not lose shape. You want to keep the juices inside the tomatoes as much as possible. 

Squeeze 1/4 of the lemon, 2 tablespoons of white balsimic vinegar and a drizzling of the Corzo Respado Tequila onto the mixture.  These liquids should act to steam the fish.  Remove from heat and put into a bowl. Leave juices in skillet and retain to cook fish.   

Add, to taste, uncooked onions, red pepper, halved-tomatoes, cilantro and chives.  Marinate with more lemon/lime, vinegar and tequila to taste. 

Add Assiago cheese and, if you like it salty, a bit of course sea salt just before serving. 

Rockfish filet (2)

Remove bones from filets.  If there are rib bones, very carefully using a sharp or deboning knife, run the tip of the knife just under the ribs, being careful not tear the fish.  If there are pintail bones, locate them and using a pair of needle nose plyers try to smoothing pull them out.  

Using your hand, rub in small amount of balsamic vinegar, tequila and olive oil into filets.  Sprinkle top of fish with 5-10 grains of coarse sea salt each. Let sit for 5-10 minutes

In skillet, with juices and bits from salsa, add enough olive oil and heat to very hot. 

Place filets in hot oil and juices/bits left over from sautéing salsa, flipping once until white.  Carefully transfer to baking sheet (with edges – lots of juice) and first sprinkle with a bit of cheese, letting it drop into the crevices of the fish.  Top with half the salsa.

Cook until firmly done but not over done.  About 15 minutes at 350 or until fish reaches an internal temperate of 140 degrees F, the flesh is opaque and flaky.  Juices should run clear.

Plate by putting fish atop toasted bread, adding a bit more salsa (cold to hot and for crunch) and sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Serve with saffron rice and seasonal vegetables.  

This would be a great dish with grilled corn. 

For additional food and drink recipes, culinary and travel stories, visit Donne Tempo Magazine.  Donne Tempo and her writers encourage all readers to cook with joy, share with those you love and always, always drink with moderation. Please do not drink and drive!