Grouper is not as common as tuna and can be hard to come around especially the larger ones. So when you do get your hands on a fresh catch, consider cooking and preparing it more than the usual grilled or pan-fried fish recipes. In this healthy dinner recipe, Michelin chef Mario d’Orio shows us how to cook and prepare Grouper the French way with some corolla potatoes, crystallized tomatoes, and aromatic herbs.
This recipe consists of three parts: baking the fish, making the crystallized tomato sauce with herbs, and preparing the corolla potatoes. Like many gourmet dishes, serving this dish requires layering or putting one ingredient on top of another. Presentation is almost as important as the preparation because it adds to the experience of the dish. All the senses are engaged. The flavor of the baked fish and the color of the tomatoes, the sound of the crunchy potatoes, and the invigorating scent of the herbs all come together to create a culinary symphony. In this way the dish is elevated into an art form, and goes beyond an ordinary kitchen creation.
Ingredients: 1 ¼ lbs. fresh grouper, 1 lb. tomatoes, 1 lb. potatoes, olive oil, basil, Espelette pepper, salt, black pepper, garlic, thyme, laurel, parsley, chervil
Cut a shallow x on the bottom of the tomato skins for easy peeling. Drop the tomatoes in boiling water and remove after 20 seconds. Cool tomatoes in cold water, peel skins, cut into halves, and scoop the seeds out. Arrange the bed of tomatoes on an ovenproof dish and add garlic, thyme, and laurel on top. Pour liberal amounts of olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Place in a 100 degree oven and cook for an hour. Dice the tomatoes after it is cooked. To make the sauce, put the basil, parsley, and chervil in boiling water for a few seconds then place in cool water. Strain out the water and grind herbs together with olive oil and some salt using a food processor until it reaches a runny consistency. To make the corolla, cut the peeled potatoes into chips. Lightly brown them on a frying pan with a bit of oil, just enough to coat the whole pan. Arrange the potatoes into a corolla on sulphurized paper. Fry the corolla potatoes until golden brown. Season the filleted fish with salt and pepper. Drizzle with liberal amounts of olive oil and cook in oven. To serve, arrange the dish on a plate with the fish on top of the bed of tomatoes, drizzle sauce around, top potato corolla and herbs to garnish.
Make sure that all the ingredients are laid out on the table. Chop the vegetables and herbs. Peel the potatoes and put them in cold water so they retain their color. The fish should already be gutted and cleaned before you begin. It is best to enjoy this dish with organic potatoes and tomatoes. Supermarket varieties tend to lack flavor. Earthy and nutty potato varieties such as Kennebec are recommended.