Any time I put fish on the menu at Berta it usually starts with a phone call to my friend Wayne to find out what is delicious and available. I had the garnish in mind for this recipe and was told that there were some excellent large Spanish mackerel around. The fish was stunning and its oiliness worked beautifully with the creamy puree.
- 600 g broccoli
- 2 cups parsley leaves
- olive oil, for frying
- 1 brown onion, sliced
- 200 g savoy or white cabbage, sliced
- 300 g pouring cream
- 300 g milk
- 720 g fish fillet
- 1½ litres vegetable oil, for frying (approximately)
- 30 g capers
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Some broccoli will be needed for the puree and some will be kept aside to make the crispy garnish. Using half the broccoli, cut about 1 cm off the top of the florets. This should leave you with little scraps of broccoli flower. Set these aside for the garnish. Cut the rest of the broccoli into florets and the stalks into smaller pieces. Blanch in boiling salted water until quite soft and refresh in iced water. Strain and set aside.
Add the parsley to the boiling water and blanch for about 10 seconds. Refresh in iced water, strain and give the leaves a good squeeze to get rid of the water. Set aside.
In a medium pan over a gentle heat, add some olive oil, the onion and cabbage. Season and cook gently for about 10 minutes, until soft and giving but not yet starting to caramelise.
Add the cream and milk, increase the heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and continue simmering for another couple of minutes.
Add the blanched broccoli and cook for another couple of minutes to warm through. This is the tricky bit, as you want the broccoli soft and yielding but at this stage it can turn brown very quickly.
Take the mix off the heat, stir through the blanched parsley and place everything into a blender (you may need to do this in two batches). Pulse the broccoli mix until it’s very smooth.
Place the puree into a pan, ready to reheat a little once the fish is cooked. Preheat the oven to 180°C and pull the fish fillets out of the fridge to allow them to come up to room temperature.
For the garnish, add enough vegetable oil to a large heavy-based saucepan to come about 3 cm up the side. Gently lower the capers into the oil, stir and fry until the buds open up and they stop bubbling so ferociously. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Add the reserved broccoli flowers to the oil, stir quite a lot and fry until starting to turn brown and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
To cook the fish, place a medium heavy-based ovenproof frying pan (large enough to hold the 4 fish fillets) on the stove. Heat the pan first before adding a good splash of oil. Season each fillet before gently placing the fish skin-side down into the pan. Increase the heat to high for about 1 minute, give a little jiggle of the pan to make sure the fillets aren’t sticking, and use a spatula to have a peek at the skin to make sure it’s getting crispy.
Once it’s looking good, place the frying pan into the oven and cook until fish is ready. This can take anywhere between 4-7 minutes.
Meanwhile, warm the puree and mix the fried capers and broccoli in a small bowl.
To serve, place the puree on the plate, a piece of fish on top skin-side up and then sprinkle with the fried garnish. I’ll always add an extra little bit of seasoning at the end and perhaps even a drizzle of olive oil.
• With seafood I always think it’s always best to consult with your fish people as to what is good on the day and then use that. Any oily fish would work just as well here, as would a white-fleshed fish.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Jerrie-Joy Redman-Lloyd. Plate from Dinosaur Designs.