Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Fish with Caponata Style Sauce

This is the time of year when we ( and my friends) seem to have and endless supply of tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant in the garden.  They appear frequently on the menu - in, on and with just about everything. Caponata is a Sicilian dish that is very similar to the French Ratatouille and contains capers and a little vinegar and sugar to give a slightly sweet and sour flavour. I have had many versions of Caponata and Ratatouille and do not for a minute think this version is authentic. Leftover sauce is delicious with pasta or even as a base for baked eggs.

Follow my lead and create the version that you like using the proportions and combinations of flavour that you like.  Unlike most versions I steam or microwave the eggplant rather than frying as it absorbs a lot of oil and I prefer a less oily version, particularly when topping with the basil oil. I like more tomato, fresh at this time of the year and will use celery if I have some and sometimes a very finely chopped zucchini. I use dried salted capers soaked in a little water and then rinsed before chopping. Use whatever fish you like as long as it is a firm fleshed fish, I like Rockling and sometimes use salmon. This is served with some leftover rice that has chickpeas added to make enough for everyone, use plain steamed rice, couscous or even some cooked pasta.

If the fillets are thick you might like to 'butterfly' them. Slice through the middle but not all the way through and then open out.

Fish Braised in Caponata 
with Basil Oil

6-8 tomatoes, diced into small pieces (400 g tin)
1 red onion, finely diced
1 eggplant, diced into very small pieces
1 stick of celery
2 cloves garlic , crushed
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon capers, chopped finely
1 -2 tablespoons caramelised balsamic or substitute 1 -2 tablespoons vinegar and 2 teaspoons brown sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped parsley, optional

1 portion of fish per person

Basil Oil
1 bunch basil – leaves only
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup olive oil or a little more

Optional to serve
Steamed Rice or Steamed rice with chickpeas
Lightly steamed broccolini

Place eggplant in a bowl with a little water and microwave on high for three minutes.

Heat oil in a saucepan, add onions and celery reduce heat to allow to soften. Add garlic and continue to cook a further minute.

Add tomatoes and eggplant and cook until all the vegetable are soft and the mixture is thick but not dry. Add some water if it is becoming too dry.

Add remaining ingredients and check flavour. Adjust flavour to taste with more vinegar or sugar.

Place fish portions on top of the Caponata. Cover and cook for  3-4 minutes, turn fish over and cook a further 2 -3 minutes or until fish is cooked.

Basil Oil
Combine basil leaves, garlic and oil in a food processor. Process until basil is finely chopped. Scrape into a clean plastic container. Adjust consistency with a little more oil. Unused oil can be frozen for another time.

To Serve
Place the rice and chickpea combination on the plate.

Top with broccolini.

Place the fish portion on the stack and then spoon over some Caponata

Top with the basil oil.

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