Chef Sharon Cohen is known for his seafood dishes at Sheila in Tel Aviv. This appetizer is a triumph of texture and creamy flavors.
The directions call for the figs to be caramelized under the broiler, but a culinary (kitchen) torch can be used instead.
- 8 fresh figs, 4 of which are cut horizontally into 5 slices each, and 4 of which are cut open at the top like an "X," for garnish
- 2 teaspoons natural light brown sugar
- 10 1/2 ounces skinless Spanish mackerel fillet, pin bones removed, cut on the diagonal into 20 very thin slices (may substitute black grouper or amberjack/kanpachi)
- Sea salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped, or small thyme sprigs
- Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon (2 tablespoons)
- 6 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
- 1/4 cup plain whole or low-fat yogurt
- 2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar
- Raw sunflower seeds, toasted, for garnish (see NOTE)
Position an oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the (top) broiler element. Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Arrange the sliced figs and 4 cut-open figs on the lined baking sheet. Sprinkle them with the brown sugar. Broil for a few minutes until the sugar caramelizes. Let cool.
Arrange 5 slices of the fish on each plate. Sprinkle with the salt (to taste), the thyme, lemon juice and oil.
Top each piece of fish with 1 of the caramelized fig slices. Drizzle with the yogurt and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with the toasted sunflower seeds. Garnish each plate with 1 of the cut-open figs.
NOTE: Toast the raw seeds in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, shaking them to make sure they don't burn, until they are fragrant and lightly browned. Let cool before using.
Adapted from Cohen, chef of Sheila restaurant in Tel Aviv.
Tested by Shulie Madnick.
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