Your main dish doesn't necessarily need to be savoury. In fact, integrating sweetness created balance or could create absolute mayhem, a beautiful mess. This dish for me is like dinner and dessert on one plate, and the flavours play off each other favourably. Fruit is often overlooked when it comes to a main dish. I feel in mainstream restaurants, especially in London, you don't find it too often in your main meal, usually in dessert. Some of my favourite partners in crime are:
- Orange, pear, walnut & blue cheese
- Strawberries, basil & balsamic
- Dates & sweet potato (dessert on a plate...MMM)
- Mango, chilli & coriander
- Gammon & pineapple
- Honey roasted root vegetables
- Watermelon and olive oil
So why fruit and fish? Surely BLEURGH?
Actually...no. Whilst adding fresh fruit to fish might not be the first flavourful combinations to come to mind, I can ensure you that you will be graced with a more than pleasant surprise. In fact, unlike red meat and poultry, fish has a certain freshness to it, with iodine and sea-resembling fishy flavours being passed down the food chain and essentially onto your plate. Its texture is delicately soft and light; it's flavour best accentuated by the freshest of ingredients. White fish has far less of a 'fishy' taste than other variations of fish, for example tuna. I have used lemon sole, a flat fish which has a sweet delicate flesh and works well in many dishes.
I first tasted the mango, coriander and hot red chilli salsa when I worked for the Rolex HQ in London. Our meals were catered for us everyday, and we were lucky enough to have Pete the chef cooking 3-course meals for us daily! Oh how I loved Pete :D Even if my gluten-intolerance really did him up the backside sometimes. Pete if you're reading this, I miss coming into the kitchen each day, you were so great and you inspired me always! Pete served us once, cod on crushed new potato's with this Brazilian style salsa, which I was enthralled by! It is genius. It is SO fresh, flavourful and spicy. I felt so many flavours whizzing around my mouth, except my taste buds accepted them clearly and confidently. IT. WAS. DELICIOUS. Note to self, next time, try adding chopped red onion into the salsa, for another kick in a different direction. I think that too is a match made in heaven.
OK. So I bought a sweet potato. I baked it and then I had one of those mid-creating brainwaves. I know I sound like a loony tune, but being creative in the kitchen is SO much fun, I am buzzing still from the flavour pairings...EEEK! The best part is you never actually know what you are doing half the time, you explore and experiment and then VOILA! I tried to slice dates...it turned to much OBV. They are SO soft. I have date syrup? That's it. Sliced sweet potato laced with melted butter, date puree, garnished with drizzled date honey. OH MY this is what I am dubbing dessert on a plate. It is a wonderful side to an savoury or spicy dish, it not only adds balance, but the sweetness is not overpowering, it went beautifully with the delicate flavours, seeing as it has an earthy undertone. OK, it sounds like earthy and ocean bearing flavour just don't mix. Think again!
DATES! DATES! DATES! My favourite restaurant, that I have eaten at so far is La Shuk on Dizengoff. Why? Firstly, the ceviche is incredible. The best ceviche I have had and right now I am loving ceviche. It was white John Dory fish and sweet dates...I need to recreate this dish. Speaking of ceviche, restaurants here in Israel serve such wonderful ceviche dishes, diverse in flavour, and right now its my favourite dish. I'll have a glass of Cava please (but really I say it in Hebrew) :P There is only one place I can find Prosecco here in Israel, luckily it's in a wine bar called Denim, which is conveniently located down my street, with a daily happy hour. WHOOPS. Whilst I no longer drink it as often, I consider myself more of a sangria girl now, Prosecco was undoubtedly my favourite drink back home and in London.
PS. Can we just appreciate this cute silver scoop! On my wanders around Tel Aviv last weekend, I got lost exploring the back streets leading to Levinsky Market, by which I stumbled across several professional chef stores! ERRR I'M IN HEAVEN. I lost myself and found myself a million times over planning dishes based on plates, accompaniments and so-called kitchen gadgets. Exhibit A. The sweetshop scoop. I knew instantly when I saw it that I would, essentially, serve the accompaniment to a dish. In this case, the salsa fitted perfectly in there. Cooking isn't just about making food and eating it. The creative processes actually start before you even start cooking. I bought so many cute and kinda cool things in these stores for the presentation of my food. I can't wait to share it all with you :)
ENJOY DOLLS XO
Fish in Foil, the Scoop of the Day and Finally the Sweet Potato found himself a DATE!
Baked Lemon Sole & Brazilian Mango Salsa Served with Sweet Potato & Sweet Dates
(This recipe SERVES 1 to increase yield, multiply quantities by amount of people)
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
- 1 fillet of Lemon Sole white fish
- wedge of lemon
- knob of butter
- 1/4 sweet potato
- 1 King Solomon dates (my favourite Israeli dates, other variations will do!)
- 1 tsp date syrup
- Sea Salt & Pepper
Mango Salsa Ingredients:
- 1/3 Mango
- Handful of coriander
- 1/3 Red Chilli Pepper
- 2 slices red onion (optional & not included in this recipe)
Make the Magic Happen:
- Preheat fan oven to 180 degrees. Wash sweet potato, and mark an X in the middle using a sharp knife. Place potato in the microwave for 6 minutes to pre-cook it. This reduces cooking time and it is just as tasty. If you beg to differ, pop the potato in 40 minutes before preparation begins :D
- Take a piece of aluminium foil approx. 30cm x 30xm long and place the fillet of fish in the middle of the foil square. Season with cracked sea salt and cracked black pepper, squeezing a little of the lemon wedge over the fish and leave on top with a knob of butter.
- Fold in the foil first length ways and then horizontally, create a roof over the fish, sealing in a little house, ensuring all edges are folded over so nothing seeps out. Use a fork or a knife to poke holes in the top to allow steam out. This is one of my favourite ways to cook fish. It is baked inside all the juices, the addition of ingredients such as lemon, parsley, onion, herbs or whatever induces flavour and keeps the freshness. It also keeps the flesh soft and moist.
- Place the fish in foil in a small casserole dish, just in cas any juices spill out, you don't want to have more hassle when it comes to cleaning the kitchen.
- Take the potato out of the oven...careful...this is not a game of hot potato, be sure to use something like a tea towel to grab it. IT'S HOT!! Pop it straight in the oven to continue cooking and to crisp over.
- Meanwhile, slice off the mango. I used an avocado slicer to slice the mango out from the skin, an alternative is to use a knife and chop into chunks. Place in a bowl.
- Finely chop the coriander and add to the mango.
- Slice the red chilli pepper into fine circles. If you like it hot like me, start at the top of the chilli where the seeds are, you will get more spice, and more heat! Use sparingly if you are sensitive to spice.. Add to the bowl and mix it all up!
- Pop the fish in the oven for 15 minutes, he can sit tight with the sweet potato.
- Slice the dates and mix together to form a puree.
- Once the fish and sweet potato are cooked, take out of the oven and leave to cool for 5 mins, at this moment I pour myself a glass of vino rouge...
- Arrange your plate accordingly; slice the sweet potato and add a tiny knob of butter to each slice. Top with sweet date puree and drizzle with date honey, make it look pretty.
- Serve the mango salsa on the side and VOILA!
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