Short Smoked Escolar with Eggplant Ragout and Tomato Fondue
The preparation involved in this dish is well worth the effort. This is a dazzling dish with bold flavors and scrumptious aromas.
For the Escolar:
8 (4-oz.) escolar fillets
Teriyaki sauce, as needed
For the Eggplant Ragoût:
1 oz. extra virgin olive oil
8 cloves garlic
1 eggplant, peeled, sliced about 3⁄4-in. thick, soaked in salt water, then rinsed, dried, and cut in 1-in. dice
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1⁄2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 red pepper, roasted and peeled, cut in 1-in. dice
4 anchovy fillets, chopped
2 oz. veal jus
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Tomato Fondue:
2 oz. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. chopped fresh garlic
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. chopped basil
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste for grilling fish
Fresh basil sprigs, for garnish
1. Set up a cold smoker or barbecue grill with a tightly fitting lid. Light a few chunks of charcoal and when they are red, cover with hardwood chips that have been soaked for a few minutes. When the wood starts to smoke, cover the smoker and adjust the vents so they are open only slightly. (If using a drum-type smoker, place ice in the drip pan.) When the smoke is thick, brush the escolar fillets with teriyaki and place in the smoker as far away from the flame as possible; smoke 2-3 min. Remove and refrigerate.
2. Prepare Eggplant Ragoût: Heat the olive oil over medium heat and sweat the garlic until light brown and soft. Add the eggplant and half the chopped fresh herbs, lower heat, and stew gently, stirring often, 15-20 min. Add red pepper, anchovy, and veal jus and cook on low heat, 10 min. Stir in remaining herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
3. Prepare Tomato Fondue: Heat olive oil and sauté garlic 2 min.; add tomato paste and mash with a spoon, spreading it out in the oil. Add half the basil and all the tomatoes, cooking until warmed through. Stir in remaining basil and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
4. For service: Lightly season the escolar fillets with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, and place on a clean, hot grill; cook about 3 min. per side. Place a spoonful of warm ragout in center of the plate, shingle the escolar fillets on top (2 fillets per serving),
finish with tomato fondue and garnish with basil.