All right, one more post reminiscing about the joy of summer in Croatia, then I’ll switch to more autumnal themes! Just like my recent Dalmatian Trio, this is another dish idea that sprung from my meal at LD Restaurant before I turned it into something else. Remember the grilled monkfish with a salad of raw and pickled asparagus, egg yolk, lardo, and pea sprouts? I kept many of the ingredients (fish, asparagus, egg, cured pork) but pivoted to a much simpler recipe, meant to provide a tasty and colorful accompaniment to the whole grilled fish so often served on the Dalmatian coast. Rarely will you find a restaurant on the seashore that doesn’t boast a display of the day’s catch (ideally from local fishermen but often from farms and from other corners of the world, as the Adriatic’s wildlife can’t feed tens of millions of tourists every year): scorpionfish, seabream, branzino, John Dory, flounder…
The garnishes, however, are few and rather boring: Swiss chard with potatoes (blitva s krumpirom in Croatian), fried potatoes, or “seasonal vegetables” such as grilled eggplant, zucchini, and peppers. And that’s where LD Restaurant’s influence comes to the rescue:
- Instead of monkfish, I’ve opted for porgy (I could have picked seabream or branzino) – you can’t really grill monkfish. Actually, my porgy isn’t grilled but roasted in the oven, like the turbot I posted about here.
- I’ve kept the asparagus salad, but the lardo’s become crispy prosciutto.
- The egg yolk is replaced by an egg sabayon that can double up as sauce for the fish. Because egg doesn’t have that much flavor on its own, I gently infuse the sauce with saffron and morels for added complexity, although neither ingredient should be too noticeable.
- My last recipe used fennel fronds, and now I’m roasting the fennel bulbs so that nothing goes to waste. The two dishes served together would make a lovely dinner!
Roasted Porgy with Fennel, Asparagus Salad, and Egg Sabayon
Yields 2 servings, with a little bit of extra fish and sauce
Total preparation: 2 hours 15 minutes
Active preparation: 1 hour
20 g sliced prosciutto
- Place the prosciutto slices on a baking tray lined with a silicon mat. Cover with another silicon mat and baking tray (to keep slices flat), then bake in a 200 C / 400 F oven for 10 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
- Cut the prosciutto into a brunoise, and reserve in a plastic container lined with a paper towel.
about 200 g fennel bulbs, without the fronds
8 g olive oil
black pepper, ground
- Cut off the bottom of each fennel bulb, slice in half lengthwise, then peel off and discard the outer layer. Cut 4 thick wedges of about 25 g each, and reserve the rest for another recipe.
- Toss the fennel wedges in a bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a baking tray lined with parchment paper, outermost side down, and bake in 175 C / 350 F oven for about 30 minutes, until they start to brown. Reserve on the tray.
8 large trimmed asparagus (about 150 g)
7 g olive oil
3.5 g lemon juice
- Peel 3/4 of the asparagus, and blanch in a pot of salted boiling water until tender. Transfer to a bowl of iced water, let cool, then drain on paper towels.
- Using a peeler, cut the remaining asparagus lengthwise into thin strips until you have about 30 g. Place the strips in a bowl, season with salt, and toss with olive oil and lemon juice. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.
90 g chicken stock
3 g dried morels
0.2 g saffron, ground in a mortar
45 g (about 3) egg yolks
45 g butter, diced
15 g heavy cream
6 g lemon juice
- Bring the chicken stock to a boil in the microwave. Add the dried morels and saffron, and let steep for 15 minutes.
- Strain the flavored stock into the bowl of a double boiler and whisk in the egg yolks. Heat the double boiler over medium heat, and continue whisking rapidly for a few minutes until the mixture reaches 71 C / 160 F.
- Remove the sabayon from the heat, then whisk in the butter a few dice at a time. Add the cream and lemon juice, season with salt, and proceed with assembly immediately.
1 whole cleaned porgy, about 450 g (500 g before scaling and gutting)
15 g extra virgin olive oil, plus some for serving (see below)
black pepper, ground
asparagus preparations (whole asparagus and asparagus strips)
- Heat oven to 275 C / 525 F on the convection position. Wait until it reaches that temperature.
- Rinse the fish under cold water (including inside the fish) and pat dry with paper towels. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread half of the olive oil on one side of the fish, and season with salt and pepper. Flip, and repeat on the other side.
- Bake the fish on the middle rack for 8-10 minutes, until its internal temperature reaches 49 C / 120 F. Take out of the oven, and transfer the fish, still on the parchment paper, to a cutting board.
- After taking the fish out, place the whole asparagus (not the strips) on the tray with the fennel and reheat in the over at 260 C / 500 F for 5 minutes.
- Porgy has two fillets on each side, one large and one small. Run a fish knife along the spine and the contours of the fillets. Peel off the skin – this should be very easy. Run the fish knife along the small bones radiating from the spine to separate the top fillets, and transfer to a dish.
- Remove the spine, radial bones, head, and tail without flipping the fish over, then flip the fillets, remove the skin, and transfer to the same dish.
- Optionally, drizzle a little bit of olive oil on the fillets and season with a bit more salt. You won’t serve the smaller fillets for now; keep them for second servings.
- Gently reheat the sabayon in the double boiler for a couple minutes, adding a little bit of water if it’s too thick.
- Cover the center of each plate with some sabayon and place a fish fillet across. At the top of each plate, line up three whole asparagus, top with strips of marinated asparagus, and sprinkle with crispy prosciutto. Arrange two pieces of fennel to fill the gaps. Serve immediately.