recently, when i was starting to build my personal chef brand on kitchensurfing, i was asked about my culinary style. two things came to mind – seafood and clean eating. sure, i love butter and sugar and fried things, but that’s not what i commonly gravitate to. instead, i get the most excited over going to the fish market, unknown wild grains, vegetables i’ve never heard of.
this is one of those that perfectly sums me up. the barramundi, a delicate whitefish caught off the shores of australia, is very similar to cod and sole. here, it’s poached in a court bouillon (poaching being one of the healthiest of cooking techniques as there’s no added fat) with added saffron, served on top of a wild rice and quinoa pilaf, with a small bit of burst grape tomatoes and parsley.
“a good pilaf,” our chef-instructor had said, “is something you should have in your arsenal.” he teaches us recipes like he’s prepping us to go to war, our recipe cards at the ready.
but this is a recipe you should have in your arsenal – this is a great beginner recipe. tip: the rice can be done well ahead of time and just heated up when the fish is ready.
KALE AND WILD RICE PILAF
1 cup wild rice
1 oz butter
3/4 cup kale sprouts
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
BARRAMUNDI IN SAFFRON-TOMATO BROTH
2 barramundi filets (can’t find barramundi, try cod or sole!)
2 oz canola oil
2 tbsp parsley, minced
1 sprig parsley
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup Cherry tomatoes
1 cup White wine
1/4 cup carrot, small diced
1/4 cup celery, small diced
1/2 cup onion + 1/4 cup, small diced
1 sprig thyme
1 clove garlic, grated
1/4 tsp saffron
1/2 tbsp tomato paste
1 oz lemon juice
2 cups seafood stock
heat 1 oz butter in a small saucepan over med-high heat. add kale sprouts and cook with a pinch of salt and pepper until softened and bright green. reserve. add 1/4 diced onion to the pot and cook until soft and fragrant. add the wild rice and let toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. add chicken stock. bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes or until rice is soft, add more stock if necessary. remove and toss with kale sprouts.
tie parsley stem, thyme stem, and bay leaf together. heat canola oil in a large stockpot. now add carrot, celery, and remaining onion with a pinch of salt. cook until softened and fragrant. add the tomato paste and tomatoes and stir until it’s evenly distributed throughout the mirepoix and tomatoes are soft and beginning to burst. add the wine, seafood stock, lemon juice, bundle of herbs, saffron, and grated garlic. bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. allow broth to reduce by 1/3rd. add barramundi filets and cook 4-5 minutes, until flaky and white throughout.
serve on a bed of kale and wild rice with cherry tomatoes and minced parsley to top.