• Behzad Jamshidi

Mediterranean Pan Seared Fish

I Trust You... But Just Some Advice Before You Begin...

- Most Recipes Need To Be Followed Precisely - This Is Not One Of Them. Your guidelines are this; you are serving fish (whatever you use, totally up to you) with a salad comprising of: a grain, some herbs, something briney, something acidic, and some oil to bring it all together. If you want to use bulgur instead of lentils, go a head, I'm not a cop. If you could only get your hands on a few herbs or non at all, I won't hate you - promise. Don't like olives? Don't talk to me, that's crossing the line. But as far as everything else goes, the idea is to create a garnish that is delicious, fresh, and balanced.

Photo By Sarah Boisjoli

- Firm Fresh Fish - No Buts. Get your hands on something beautiful. My favourite pan seared fish varieties to cook are bass (black or striped) & snapper. You want something meaty and delicious. Don't skimp out and buy something cheap. The fish is the star, treat it as so! Also as your fishmonger to scale your fish, you don't want to do that part at home, really. And buy a touch larger fillet than you think you'll need. You may want to trim the fish to get the most beautiful fillet possible, maybe you don't care at all and I just put too much faith in you. Just error on the side of caution, master chef goals in mind or not.

Photo By Sarah Boisjoli

- Leave The Flashy Cooking For The Food Network. Don't sear your fish in a pan heated at a million degrees. Don't get to complicated with garnishes. No one wants to see fire while you're cooking, that stuffs for losers. Don't get complicated with seasoning. Simple things cooked right way always win. Master the basics and none of the gimmicks will ever matter.


For The Fish:

- 2x 5oz Fish Fillets, skin on + scaled (bass or snapper preferably)

- 3 Tbsp Neutral Oil (Grapeseed or Canola)

- 2 Tbsp Butter, unsalted

- 1 Lemon Peel Rind

- 1 Garlic Clove, crushed

- 2 Sprigs Thyme or Tarragon

- Kosher Salt & Black Pepper, to taste

For The Salad:

- 1/2 Cup Olives (preferably green castelvetrano or similar)

- 1/2 Stalk Celery, sliced thin

- 1/2 Small Shallot, sliced thin (1/8th of a red onion alternatively)

- 1 Persian Cucumber, cut in half and sliced in thin half moons (1/4 of an English cucumber alternatively)

- 3/4 Cup De Puis Lentils (or other firm lentil alternatively such as brown or black)

- 2 1/2 Cups Stock (Chicken or Vegetable, water alternatively is fine)

- 1/2 Cup Marcona Almonds, lightly chopped (or other toasted nuts such as hazelnuts nuts or pistachios)

- 2 Small Radishes, sliced thin

- 1 Stalk Green Onion, sliced thin

- 1 Tbsp Capers, nonpareil

- 3 Tbsp Good Quality Olive Oil

- 1 Tbsp Vinegar (Champagne or Apple Cider Preferably)

- Kosher Salt + Pepper, to taste

Optional But Encouraged:

- 1 Tbsp Chives, finely chopped

- 1 Tbsp Dill, finely chopped

- 1 Tbsp Parsley, finely chopped

- 1 Tbsp Cilantro, finely chopped

- 1 Tbsp Basil, finely chopped

- 1 Tbsp Tarragon, finely chopped

- 1 Tbsp Basil, finely chopped


For The Fish:

- Remove your fish from the fridge and allow it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour. Tempering the fish encourages more moisture retention and a more even cooking process.

- Pre-heat a heavy based pan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes.

- Meanwhile, using paper towel or equivalent, blot dry both sides of your fish fillets to help prevent the moisture from causing the flesh to stick onto the pan.

- Season both sides of your fish with kosher salt and cracked black pepper.

- Add your neutral oil to the pan and heat for 30 seconds. Place your fish in carefully away from you skin side down and using a spatula, lightly press the fish down so that it stays flat in the pan. Hold the fish in this position for 30-45 seconds or until the fish loses its tendency to buckle and curl. If you notice excessive amounts of white smoke as your fish is searing, slightly reduce the heat of your pan to medium.

- Allow your fish to cook on its skin side for 4-5 minutes. After the skin is nicely crisp and the fish appears to be cooked halfway, carefully flip over the fish. Add your butter, lemon peel, smashed garlic and herbs. Gently tip the pan towards you to create a pool for the foamy butter to collect in, and using a table spoon, carefully cover the skin side of the fish in the foamy butter several times. Repeat this process for 2 minutes or until the fish is firm to the touch and flakes when pressed.

- Remove the fish from the pan and place on a plate topped with the garlic, lemon peel, and herbs in addition to a spoon of the foamy brown butter from the pan. Allow it to rest for 5-6 minutes uncovered.

For The Salad:

- In a heavy based pot, bring lentils and stock to a boil. Once at a boil, reduce to low heat, season generously with salt and black pepper, and cover with a tight fitting lid. Allow to cook for 20-25 minutes or until lentils are tender. (This step can be done in advance and the lentils can be reheated before use.)

- Carefully strain the lentils or any additional liquid and transfer them into a large bowl. Add olive oil and vinegar and toss. Allow to cool slightly until the lentils are warm to the touch.

- Meanwhile, mix together olives, sliced celery, shallow, cucumber, radishes, green onion, chopped almonds, capers, and finely chopped herbs. Add the mixture to the lentils with the juice of 1 lemon and toss lightly to incorporate. Check for seasoning. Add olive oil if the mixture feels dry or more vinegar if you feel the flavor could be more bright. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

- Place a large spoonful of the lentil salad in a coupe style bowl and serve the rested fish nestled next to it. Garnish with more olive oil and fresh lemon juice as needed.