A mother-daughter conversation on food and cooking (mostly)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mediterranean Tomato-Saffron Tilefish

There's a Beaufort-based seafood guy now coming to the All-Local Farmers Market every Saturday, and his fish is amazingly, absurdly fresh. Yesterday we bought grey tilefish, which I've never bought before. It was lovely -- bright spotted skin, big easy-to-find bones, grouper-like color and grain. You could put your nose right down on it and smell nothing except a faint, fresh sweetness.

I poked through some more complicated recipes and came up with this simple Mediterranean preparation, which has some of the flavor of bouillabaisse but is more straightforward. Any blend of garden and canned tomatoes would work; I used a little of both. It's not a super tomato-ey dish.

I'm out of the food-photographing habit, so here's Patty demonstrating how hot it is here lately.

Mediterranean Tomato-Saffron Fish

Preheat oven to 400.

In Dutch oven, saute in olive oil until onions are softened and smaller:
- 3 small Vidalia onions, sliced
- 8-10 saffron threads
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds

Add and let some of the booziness cook off:
- 3/4 c dry vermouth

Add and cook for just a few minutes:
- 1 ripe tomato, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped canned tomatoes
- salt
- pepper

Add, cover, put in oven and cook 8-15 minutes, depending on fish size:
- 1 lb. fish

I left the fillet whole, and it took exactly 15 minutes. The bones and skin thickened the broth just a little.

I served it over farro, with which Lawson and I are in love. He says it tastes like he wishes brown rice tasted.

Crusty bread would also be good with this. On the side we ate sliced cucumbers in rice vinegar, and baba ghanoush made with our own eggplant, which are the only plants really doing well this year in our yard. I drank vinho verde. Lawson drank Pabst Blue Ribbon. It was a good summer dinner.