Lionfish could be the new sustainable "it" seafood: It's an invasive species that conservationists would like us to eat more of. As of this recipe posting, it is not widely available in the Washington area -- and the only way it can become so is for consumers to create the demand. It is a delicate and sweet white-fleshed fish that tastes like a cross between snapper and grouper.
If you can't find or don't want to use lionfish, substitute catfish fillets.
This dish is similar to a curry in that the fish is simmered in a flavorful sauce.
Make Ahead: You'll have enough of the sauce left over to serve on the side, or with a rice pilaf or boiled potatoes.
- For the sauce
- 2 medium-size ripe tomatoes (10 to 12 ounces total), cored, then cut in half
- 1/2 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 medium cloves garlic, cut in half lengthwise
- 1 medium poblano pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher or sea salt
- For the fish
- 1 pound lionfish fillets (pinbones removed), cut lengthwise into 1-inch-wide strips (see headnote; may substitute catfish fillets)
- Kosher or sea salt (optional)
For the sauce: Position the top oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the top broiling element; preheat the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Combine the tomatoes (cut sides up), onion, garlic, poblano pepper and almonds on the lined baking sheet; drizzle with the oil and lightly season with salt; toss gently to coat. Place under the broiler and cook for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is fragrant and slightly charred; the tomatoes will have released their juices.
Carefully transfer the mixture to a blender, including any juice (use the foil as a funnel). Remove the center knob in the lid and place a dish towel over the opening; this will allow steam to escape. Puree until smooth. The yield should be about 1 3/4 cups of romesco sauce.
For the fish: Spray the inside of a large nonreactive skillet or saute pan with nonstick cooking oil spray. Arrange the fish strips on the bottom in a single layer; season lightly with salt, if desired. Cover them evenly with about 1 1/4 cups of the sauce; reserve any leftover sauce for serving on the side or another use (can be kept warm or served at room temperature). Set over low heat and cook uncovered for 8 to 10 minutes, until the fish is opaque and just begins to flake. The sauce will be bubbling. Do not stir, or the fish will break into small pieces.
Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Use a wide spatula to divide the fish and sauce among individual plates; serve immediately, with extra sauce passed at the table, if desired.
Adapted from a recipe by Washington chef Barton Seaver.
Tested by Juliet Eilperin and Bonnie S. Benwick.
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