Monday, March 4, 2013
Yesterday I mentioned the recent Daily Meal story on 11 disappearing menu items. When I read it, I thought about why some foods lose favor with the public. Certainly I can see why French dishes with complicated cream sauces are no longer in vogue. Ever since the coming of the “nouvelle cuisine,” cooking has never been the same.
While some of the dishes look smothered by thick sauces, the trout almondine looks comparatively light. “Almondine” is actually an American misspelling of the original French “amandine,” although it’s easy to see why, since the term refers to a garnish of almonds. The fish in the article is topped with fresh green beans and almond slivers, a combination that seems like it could be very good.
Just days after reading that article, I saw Grouper Almondine on the Restaurant Week lunch menu at Poste. The fish was served with haricots vert and almonds. It didn’t look heavy, in fact, it looked quite tasty. I modeled my dish after that with some input from a Tyler Florence recipe I found on the Food Network website. Rather than slivered almonds, I used whole marcona almonds that I toasted with some honey.
Adapted from multiple sources, including Sole Almondine by Tyler Florence for Food Network and inspired by Poste Moderne Brasserie
¼ cup marcona almonds
2 tsp. honey (plus 2 tsp. water)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. fresh green beans, rinsed and ends trimmed
1 lemon, zested and juiced
¼ cup all-purpose flour
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
1 large egg
1/3 cup milk (nonfat is fine)
¾ lb. grouper
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup dry white wine (I used sauvignon blanc)
½ tsp. arrowroot powder (optional)
1. Heat a medium frying pan over medium heat. Toast marcona almonds until fragrant and lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes. Combine honey and 2 tsp. water in a microwave safe bowl (or glass measuring cup). Warm in the microwave for 10 seconds and stir together. Pour over almonds, reduce heat to low, and stir until water has evaporated. Remove almonds from pan and spread on a parchment lined baking sheet to cool (spreading them out keeps them from sticking together as they dry).
2. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tbsp. butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add green beans, lemon zest and kosher salt to taste and sauté until beans are tender, about 8-10 minutes. Set aside.
3. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tbsp. butter in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Pat fish dry with a paper towel. Combine flour with salt and pepper to taste on a plate. In a shallow bowl, lightly beat the egg, then whisk together with the milk. Dredge fish in the flour, then dip it in the egg mixture, allowing excess egg to drip off. Place coated fish in pan and cook about 3 minutes. Turn over carefully (I used two spatulas, flipping from one onto the other) and cook another 3 to 5 minutes until desired doneness (I like my fish pretty well cooked). Reserve drippings in pan.
4. Add garlic to pan the fish was cooked in and sauté until softened and fragrant, a couple minutes. Add the wine to deglaze the pan and cook a few minutes, stirring constantly with a spoon or whisk to scrape up the cooked bits from the pan. If desired, sprinkle with a little arrowroot powder to thicken. Turn off the heat. Stir in the lemon juice.
5. To serve, divide the cooked fish between two plates. Top each piece of fish with half the green beans, lemon-wine sauce and honey-glazed almonds.