Saturday, September 10, 2011

Harrissa Rubbed Swordfish, Asparagus with Lemon Gastrique and Potatoes with Lemon Sour Cream

This is a dish that has evolved from taking different preparations we've done and sauces we've made and combining them into what I think is a pretty cohesive dish.  I like swordfish cooked medium but still juicy and basted with lemon brown butter.  The  texture and flavor of the fish stand up to the Harrissa which is smoky and complex.  The asparagus is bitter but enhanced by the sweet tart gastrique and admittedly, I don't need to much of an excuse to put potatoes on a plate, but along with the sour cream they balance out your palate. Besides, whats better than scraping a potato through the last of your sauce anyway?

Swordfish  (I usually do a 1/2 lb portion)
Baby potatoes (if you only have larger potatoes on hand just cut smaller)
1-2 lemons per serving
1/2 cup White Vinegar per serving
1/2 cup Sugar per serving
Sour cream
Garlic (minced)
Parsley (minced)

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Mix Sour cream and lemon.  Season with salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust.  Keep cool.
3.   Cut potatoes in half. Toss in sheet pan with olive oil salt and pepper.  (Save sheet pan, will re-use shortly for asparagus.)
4.  Heat skillet to medium high.  Add oil, sear potatoes flat side down, reduce heat.  Add garlic and parsley and transfer to oven. 
5.  While sauteing potatoes you should get your gastrique going.  Add 1/2 cup sugar per serving, 1/2 cup vinegar, the juice of one lemon, lemon zest and a pinch of salt to pan.  Heat to a boil, reduce temperature and simmer.  Reduce sauce.
6.  Using sheet pan toss asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Put in oven and roast for about ten minutes. 
7.  Season fish with salt, pepper and generous rub of Harissa.  Heat saute pan until med high heat.  You don't need smoking hot, you're not searing it like you would red meat or scallops.  Add oil, then fish.  Cook fish for 3-4 minutes on first side then flip.  Add butter and lemon juice to pan.  Reduce heat.  Baste fish for another 3-4 minutes or so, remove from heat and plate.
8,  To plate I put the sour cream first.  Put the potatos in an neat pile next to it.  Cut the asparagus in half on a bias and make a V in the corner of the plate.  Then sauce the asparagus with lemon gastrique and put the swordfish on top of the greens.  Finish the swordfish with a little bit of the lemon brown butter from your pan and serve. 

The finish on this dish is lemony and mildly smoky from the Harissa.  Its a I think it balances nicely, though.  There's lemon in every component but its a very subtle acidity.  The other things that's cool about this is that you could deconstruct it any number of ways.  Here's what I mean by that.  The vegetable, potato and fish preparation could all go into another dish.  Like say you wanted to do the asparagus with lemon gastrique and a piece of chicken with mashed potatoes.  To me that sounds delicious.  Any of these elements could go into another recipe or just stand on their own. The gastrique itself is a basic cooking technique and instead of lemon, you could infuse rhubarb, red wine, cherries and the list goes on and on.  But I do like the combination of these three elements together, I think the dish takes your palate from sweet to bitter to savory to smoky to creamy and back.  Try it at home and let me know what you think...

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