Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Pan-Fried Ling with Eggplant Caponata
Caponata is a Sicillian delight that has spread in popularity throughout the Italian Peninsula. This is an adapted recipe by my good friend and fellow gastronome Cari Sanchez that is guaranteed to blow your mind. Her recipe called for Swordfish, a firm white fish, and since I couldn't find any available over the weekend I opted for Ling. The name ling refers to its elongated body, since it is a slim, long-bodied fish with small scales. Although it belongs to the cod family it looks more like an eel. Ling is found in deep northern waters near Iceland, the British Isles and Scandinavia. Two types exist pink ling that swims in deeper waters and are pinkish-orangish colour with irregular markings weighing up to 20 kgs and 1.5 m in length, while the rock ling are found closer to the coast in underwater caves reaching 9 kgs and growing to about 1 meter long.
This caponata recipe is a winner - it will have you licking your fingers and wondering how it exudes such a powerfully rich, meaty flavour. I added a whole zucchini, diced for an added twist since it works wonderfully with eggplant breaking down into soft chunks giving a characteristic sweet flavour.
Ingredients: 1 ½ cups extra-virgin olive oil; 4 anchovies, bones removed and rinsed well; 2 garlic cloves, minced; 3 medium size eggplants, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes; 1 large onion, minced; 1 tsp red chilli flakes; 3 medium ripe whole tomatoes, peeled and seeded; ½ cup black olives, pitted and quartered; 3 tblsp capers, rinsed and drained; ½ cup raisins; ¼ cup pine nuts; 2 tblsp sugar; ¼ cup balsamic vinegar; 1 cup tomato sauce; Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper; 4 x 200 g fillets Ling fish, skin and bloodlines removed; 2 lemons, juiced; 1 handful fresh basil leaves
Method: In a large sauté pan, heat 3/4 cup of olive oil over a medium flame. Add the anchovies and garlic to the hot oil. Using a wooden spoon, press the anchovies to break them up. They will appear to dissolve in the oil. Toss in the eggplant and cook until golden on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the eggplant from the oil and drain on paper towels.
Pour the excess oil from the pan and discard. Add 1/2 cup of the remaining olive oil to the pan and heat over a medium flame. Toss in the onion and chilli flakes and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Hand-crush the tomatoes into the pan and stir well. Bring to a simmer for 10 minutes and then return the eggplant to the pan.
Add the black olives, capers, raisins, and pine nuts to the pan, stir well, and sprinkle with the sugar and vinegar. Pour in the tomato sauce and stir; taste and then season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and simmer until ready to serve (at least 15 minutes).
Meanwhile, coat the swordfish fillets in the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon juice, and basil. Marinate in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
Heat a pan over a medium flame, and brush with oil to prevent the fish from sticking. Season the fish with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and then place in the pan. Sear on both sides for 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until fully cooked through. Serve immediately on a bed of caponata.