Back at the kitchen....Well actually, not back at the kitchen. I haven't worked a shift in the community kitchen for over two months. But I have been back. A few weeks ago, Chef Rami Suissa, who teaches at the Dan Gourmet culinary school, came to the kitchen to give a workshop as he sometimes does . I always enjoy Chef Suissa's workshops, not only because it is a chance for me to hang out with the lovely ladies I worked with, but also because it is a pleasure to learn from the Chef. Simply put, Chef Suissa is a good man. He drives 2 hours down from Haifa and then two hours back just to spend a chunk of time teaching us. He is always patient and always helpful and will explain anything from breaking down a chicken to pricing your food. I am always astounded at how invested he is in helping us succeed. He willing gives out his phone number and has no qualms about taking a call from a woman he has met only once and walking her through the process of making gyoza. (And yes, he's married, jeez, Mom!*)
During the course of the workshop, Chef Suissa pretty much cooks a whole meal. His food is always good, but during this past workshop, one dish in particular stood out for me. The Chef took some fresh white fish fillets (he used Nile perch, I used tilapia), slathered it in a mixture of olive oil, garlic and smoked paprika. Then, before putting it in the oven, he gave it a quick sprinkle with some chopped rosemary and lemon zest. While it was baking, he made a quick sauce of tomatoes cooked down in olive oil and a bit red wine vinegar. When I tasted the fish, the first thing I thought was that I had no idea that smoked paprika and rosemary went so well together. It was flavor pairing I had never thought of before- and yet, now that I have experienced it seems so obvious. The fish was just sort of perfumed with a hint of pine, playing off the bolder smokiness of the paprika. Eating it, I could imagine that flavors like these would make a really nice paella. But back to the fish, it was good. It was really good. And it was a dish I could see making on a weeknight at home. So the next time the urge for fish for dinner hit me, I made it and I wasn't disappointed. It was still good. Now I just gotta work on that paella.
White Fish in the Balkan Style
Adapted from Chef Rami Suissa
Notes: Chef Suissa's recipe serves 10, so scale down (unless, of course, you are serving 10, in which case carry on).
For the fish:
14 fillets of firm, mild white fish (Nile perch, or tilapia will work nicely)
10 cloves of garlic, sliced
3 sprigs of rosemary, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
salt and pepper
zest of a lemon
For the sauce:
5 tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1. If you have time, marinate the fish in a mixture of water and lemon (or vinegar) for 15 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. If you don't have time, skip this step.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 f. Lay the fish in one layer on a baking sheet or pan. In a small bowl mix together the garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika. Spread over the fish. Sprinkle with the rosemary and lemon zest.
3. Bake for 15-25 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets.
4. While the fish is baking, warm the tomatoes and vinegar in the olive oil, moving them around a bit until they tomatoes get all fall-aparty.
5. Serve with the sauce on top or on the side.
*My mom is actually very good about not bugging me re: my current single status. For this I am grateful. Thanks, Mom!