August 24, 2010

A Tale of Yellowtail

There's this seafood wholesaler in San Diego that's a total gem of a find; they're open to the public, though they do most of their business with restaurants, and have killer deals on super fresh fish.  I love Catalina Offshore Products.  Most of the really good deals come via their email list and being a member (free!) which is how D and I found out about a recent special they were running on locally caught yellowtail, $4.25/pound.  What?  Sign me up!  Two pound minimum?  No problem, I've got a freezer.  So we called in our order, picked it up the next morning (we called as they were closing) and set forth on a recipe search.  Well, recipe(s) actually.  I'm not very good at improvising recipes with fish, I need guidelines and inspiration.  So what's the first thing I make?

I made...
wait for it....

Fish tacos.  Don't get me wrong, they were tasty, it's just strikes me as a slightly uninspired idea.  I didn't do anything special.  In fact, I was trying to make them as basic as possible since I have a tendency to pile all sorts of goodies and flavors on my fish tacos until I've created a something bursting at the seams and unable to fit into any human mouth.  Cabbage slaw, pico de gallo, chipotle crema, avocados, pickled red onions, cilantro, fish...uh, it's starting to sound more like a salad.  So this is my attempt to go basic.  I grilled the fish with nothing but a thin slick of olive oil, salt and pepper.  And onto the tacos went just the fish, lime crema (sour cream, lime zest and juice), red cabbage, avocado and a sprinkling of chopped onion and cilantro.  I may or may not have added hot sauce at the table.  Around here, that's called simple.

But that was only one half of our fish order.  The other pound of yellowtail went into the freezer while I waited to stumble across something new.  It came a few weeks later when we had this potato and yellowtail dish at a party for D's Abuelo.  Sitting outside under canopies, sipping sangria and wiping our plates clean with bread, it was all so summery and exactly the kind of dish I was looking for.    Since anyone who knows me can tell you I've only recently come to terms with eating leftovers, I waited another week before I made it myself so that it wouldn't feel like I was eating the same dinner too many times in a row.  And you know, it wasn't any more difficult to make than the fish tacos.  Just whip up a simple sauce, half of it becomes the marinade the other the dressing, boils some potatoes and grill the fish.  For all it's simplicity, it's sure a great dish.  The lemon juice and zest gave it a sunny flavor with punches of salt from the briny capers.  The raw garlic in the dressing and the crispy pieces that stuck to the fish were balanced by the earthy greenness from the parsley.  You just can't go wrong putting garlic, lemon and parsley on fish.

And on my gah!  That salad mix up there?  I found it at the farmer's market and it's called Stellar Mix and it truly is out of this world .  There's all kinds of crazy salad greens in there along with big pieces of basil, chives, tarragon, parsley and edible flowers.  I may never be able to eat another mix again.  The watermelon radishes, tomatoes and avocado chunks were my addition.

Citrus Garlic Marinated Yellowtail and Potatoes
Adapted from Relish, June 2010

It could be that since the original recipe was intended to be made with tuna the sauce didn't need to be tweaked, but yellowtail has a darker meat and deeper flavor so I doubled the hot sauce and garlic that it called for so that their added flavor didn't get lost.  The amounts I've listed below are already adjusted.  If you're concerned about the spice level, rest assured with all those potatoes and fish in there, it's hardly has any spice at all.  Also it said the capers are optional, I say they're a must.

6 servings

1 pound yellowtail fillet
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons hot sauce, I used Frank's Red Hot 
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes
Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon drained capers
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Rinse yellowtail and pat dry. Combine olive oil, hot sauce, garlic, salt and pepper in a measuring cup. Pour half the mixture into a shallow baking pan, reserving remaining sauce. Add yellowtail to pan and refrigerate 1 hour, turning once halfway though.

To the reserved sauce add the lemon zest and juice, set aside.

Rinse off potatoes and cover them in a pot with cold water.  Bring to a boil and cook until tender.  About 20 minutes for smaller potatoes.  Halve or quarter the potatoes, to make bite size chunks.

Preheat grill to high.

Remove yellowtail from marinade and place on grill.  Don't worry about drying it off or scraping away any pieces of garlic that may be still be clinging to it.  Grill 4 to 5 minutes per side, until desired degree of doneness. 

Place hot boiled potatoes in a bowl. Break yellowtail into chunks and add to potatoes. Toss with the reserved sauce and capers.  Sprinkle parsley over the top and serve.

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