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May 15, 2018 10:59 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Enjoy Recipes Straight From Sicily

Mango avocado salsa.  JANEEN SARLIN
May 15, 2018 11:29 AM

For this week’s recipes, I’ve incorporated some of the flavors and combinations of herbs that I recently learned from chef Peppe Giuffre, while on a recent culinary trip in Sicily. Our first cooking class started with a visit to the Ballaro Market in Palermo. Sicilians use basil, lemon verbena, mint, parsley, wild arugula, sage, sometimes dill, lemon verbena and fresh laurel in their fish cooker; not all at the same time, mind you, but sparingly and only with the freshest and the best herbs available that day. Therefore, let’s apply the same philosophy to cooking fresh fish here on the East End of Long Island.

No herb garden or flower boxes with herbs on the deck or patio? Make a visit to the local nursery. Pick up many different little pots of herbs and plant them close to the kitchen door. When you’re ready to cook fish, take a pair of scissors and clip off the herbs that are pleasing to your palate and are compatible with the fish you just caught or bought.

This menu is fit for nobility as well as ordinary people like myself. Fresh fillet of flounder topped with mango and avocado salsa; served with creamy risotto with herbs, and a medley of sugar snap and snow peas with petit pois. Pour a crisp sauvignon blanc with dinner and bon appétit!

Fillet Of Flounder 
With Mango/Avocado Salsa

(Serves 4)

For the salsa:

1 ripe Haas avocado, peeled and cut into small cubes

1/2 ripe mango, (or more to taste) peeled and cut into small cubes

1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

2 lemons, zested and juiced

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Several drops of high-quality extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Fresh mint/Thai basil/flat leaf parsley, chopped (about 1/4 cup) plus sprigs for garnish

For the fish:

4 fillets of flounder, rinsed, patted dry and spiny column removed

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

About 1/4 cup finely ground almond flour or fine cornmeal for dusting

About 1/4 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika

Coconut oil for sautéing

To prepare:

Prepare the salsa, in a medium bowl, add avocado, mango, and red onion, drizzle with about a tablespoon of lemon juice and using your hands to prevent bruising, gently toss until mixed.

Season with salt and pepper and drizzle only enough oil on the salsa until the mixture glistens.

Cover with plastic wrap directly on top, and let stand until ready to serve.

Just before serving, add herbs, and another splash or two of lemon juice and olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

To prepare the flounder:

With a sharp knife, cut on both sides of the spiny column running down the center of each fillet of fish and discard.

Season fillets with salt and pepper.

In a shallow bowl, mix the almond flour and paprika together.

Meanwhile, in a non-stick skillet over moderate-high heat, coat the bottom with coconut oil and heat until the oil shimmers.

Dust the fillets on both sides with the seasoned almond flour.

Add fish to the skillet, do not crowd, and sauté until the edges of the fillets begin to brown, about two minutes. Turn over and sauté until fish flakes to the point of a knife, about two minutes longer. The cooking time depends on the thickness of the fillet.

Transfer to paper towel-lined plate and continue until all the fillets are cooked.

Place the fish fillet on warm dinner plates and top with avocado/mango salsa.

Herbed Risotto

(Serves 4)

4 to 5 cups good quality chicken or vegetable stock, simmering

2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 and 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 small finely chopped yellow onion

1 and 1/2 cups raw Arborio rice

1/2 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, mint, parsley, Thai basil, and thyme

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus extra for passing

To prepare:

Bring the broth to a slow steady simmer in a large pot over medium heat.

In a large heavy bottom saucepan over moderate-high heat, film the bottom with olive oil.

Add onions and sauté, stirring often until they are translucent, about two minutes.

Moderate the heat, stir rice into the onion mixture and toast it by stirring rather slowly and constantly until the grains turn golden, feel loose and dry; “They will click softly in the pan.”

All at once, add vermouth, raise the heat, bring to a boil, and cook until the liquid is absorbed. When the rice is almost dry, ladle in enough stock to barely cover the rice, stirring constantly. Regulate the heat so the liquid just simmers.

Continue adding stock about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring as the rice absorbs it. When the grains have doubled in size and are suspended in a creamy liquid, and rice is tender—al dente—set the pan off the heat.

Stirring with a wooden spoon, add the chopped herbs, a dollop of butter, a tablespoon or so of cheese, and mix into the risotto.

Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Transfer the risotto into warmed soup plates, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and garnish with a sprig of parsley or mint.

Pass extra cheese at the table.

Medley Of Fresh Peas

(Serves 4)

1 and 1/2 cups sugar snap peas, washed

1 and 1/2 cups snow peas, washed

About 1/2 cups extra fancy petit pois, defrosted

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Fist full of fresh mint leaves, chopped

To prepare:

With a small knife, remove the strings from both sides of the sugar snap and snow pea pods.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, drop the sugar snap peas into the water. Blanch only about 30 seconds. Immediately remove from the water and plunge them into very cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain well and set aside.

Likewise, blanch the snow peas in the boiling water, about 30 seconds, then plunge into cold water, drain, and set aside.

Likewise, drop the petit pois in the boiling water and when they rise to the top, scoop them out, rinse with cold water, drain and set aside. Can be done ahead.Just before serving: Toss snow, sugar snap and baby green peas together in a glass bowl. Cover with parchment paper and plastic wrap, microwave about 30 to 45 seconds or until hot, but not overcooked. Or place all the peas in a colander set over boiling water and steam only until heated through, about two minutes.

Season with salt and pepper, add a few drops of olive oil, and chopped fresh mint, toss and serve at once.

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