Friday, March 19, 2010

Nigella's Three Fishes with Three Herb Salsa & Braised Little Lettuces--It's Easy Being Green!

Although Kermit the frog disagrees, it is actually quite easy to be green, our theme for this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs. I knew exactly the recipe I wanted to make, Nigella's Three Fishes With Three Herb Salsa from her "Forever Summer" cookbook. I love fish and topping it with a bright green sauce of parsley, lemon, olive oil, mint, oregano, and my beloved capers seemed both green and pretty perfect. Thinking green in terms of the environment and food miles, I chose three different local fish--ahi (tuna), opah, (moonfish) and shutome (swordfish). My lemon and parsley were locally grown, as was the fresh mint I put in the sauce in place of dried. I decided to serve it with another recipe from the same book, Braised Little Gems, using some local Manoa lettuce in place of the Little Gem variety. Finally, although it doesn't look all that green in the pictures I added some Jade or Bamboo Rice--a short grain white rice that is infused with bamboo extract, that I picked up in my local natural food store's bulk bin. A very green and delicious meal.

Nigella says, "You can take the girl out of the eighties, but you can't quite take the eighties out of the girl. Far be it from me to call for a return to la nouvelle cuisine, but this is a chunky "hommage" to the seafood medleys of yore. You don't have to adhere to the three-fish rule if you don't want to; you don't even need to use the fish I specify. Any fish will do here, but certainly the coral, deep pink and whitish mixture specified looks, and tastes, wonderful."

Three Fishes With Three Herb Salsa
"Forever Summer" by Nigella Lawson
(Makes 6-8 servings)

For the Three Herb Sauce:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
zest of 1 lemon, juice of half
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons capers preserved in vinegar, drained but not rinsed
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp tsp dried mint
salt and pepper

2 salmon fillets, approx. 5 oz each
2 swordfish fillets, approx. 5 oz each
2 tuna fillets, approx. 5 oz each
3 tablespoons olive oil for frying

Make your herb sauce by combining everything in a bowl, whisking it together rather like a salad dressing. Leave it to macerate for at least 15 minutes for the flavours to develop.

Cut each fillet of fish into three pieces so that you have longish strips. Fry them in the olive oil beginning with the salmon as it will need the longest, then the swordfish and finally the tuna.

Arrange them on a large flat plate so that the different fish intermingle, and drizzle the herb sauce over the top. Serve the remaining sauce in a bowl alongside.

Nigella says, "If you thought that lettuce had texture rather than flavor--an easy assumption if most of your salad is supermarketed and plastic-wrapped--then try cooking it. The tightly budded leaves become tender and, infused with chicken stock, take on a delicate herbalness. Any pan juices left make a wonderfully soothing single portion of light summer broth."

Braised Little Gems (Lettuces)
"Forever Summer" by Nigella Lawson
(Serves 6)

6 Little Gem or Baby Boston lettuces, left whole
2 1/4 cups chicken stock
5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
handful of fresh thyme sprigs
salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the ends off the lettuce, and remove any discolored outer leaves. Lay the lettuces snugly in a baking dish, then pour in the chicken stock. Drizzle over the oil and pull the leaves off the sprigs of thyme and sprinkle them over, then season with salt and pepper.

Cover the dish tightly with foil, and put it in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until the lettuces are softly wilting and tender.

Notes/Results: Excellent! The sauce was delicious on the fish--a great blend of acidity, herby flavor and salty, tangy capers. I made one little change which was to add about 1/2 teaspoon of dried red chili pepper flakes to the sauce for a little kick. It would have still been great without the chilies but I liked having a bit of spice in the mix. The three fish all have different flavors and textures, the shutome or swordfish is tender and mild, the opah is an oilier fish with a moist texture and a sweet flavor, and I just seared the outside of of my ahi, leaving the center red, enhancing it's rich flavor. The sauce would be great with any fish or even with chicken or veggies.

Braising the Manoa lettuce brought out a lot more of its sweetness and the thyme was an excellent compliment. The jade rice, I cooked in some chicken stock and then drizzled with a bit of olive oil and toasted sesame seeds. The rice has a sweetness to it and tasted great with the fish and lettuce, and with its short grain and slight stickiness, it would be great in sushi rolls. The whole dinner went together very quickly and easily--I made the rice and salsa, put the lettuce in the oven and then cooked the fish (in about 1/3 of the olive oil Nigella called for). BTW--I made a 1/2 recipe of both the fish and the lettuce but made the full amount of sauce because you can't have too much sauce! ;-) This meal doesn't photograph quite as good as it tastes, but trust me it was a healthy and very tasty dinner.

You can see what green creations the other IHCC participants came up with and if they also found "It's Easy Being Green!" by going to the IHCC site here and following the links.


  1. Wow, you rocked the green this week!
    Great looking meal - I love every part of it. And that fish is so spectacularly fresh looking. I am lucky if I can find anything that isn't frozen.
    Well done! Are you making this for me when I get there? Please?

  2. the greens and the fish!...look just incredible and super frsh...awseome

  3. This is a beautiful feast!!! WOW! I came over to see your blog from IHCC and am so glad I did. My daughter Elise, used to live in Oahu, now lives part time in Maui (Coast Guard) and part time in Kauai with her new husband (also Coast Guard). I am so jealous of the foods you have available. This is a marvelous post! I'm forwarding your blog to Elise, she will love it! ~LeslieMichele

  4. This is an amazing meal, and so timely - I was just trying to decide how to cook our Friday fish. Bingo! Love this salsa. Am keeping the lettuce in mind for when I find little heads.

  5. Thanks so much for posting, I was looking for the recipe for some guest tonieght but couldn't find the book,Yasmin.

  6. Natashya--thanks! I am lucky with the fish we can get. Of course I'll make it for you. ;-)

    Kat, Johnny & Andreas--thank you! It was good. ;-)

    The Chef in My Head--mahalo! I am glad you stopped by. Hopefully you get to visit your daughter sometimes. ;-)

    Nancy--Great--I hope you like it as much as I did!

    Yasmin--I am glad I could help! ;-)

  7. You definitely made it look easy to be green;D
    You definitely have some wonderful fresh fish available to you. The whole meal sounds delicious!

  8. Its so pretty, I almost wish I liked fish! It is truly a green for this weeks theme.

  9. The Healthy Apron--thanks! ;-)

    Kim--I am lucky with the fish varieties here for sure.

    loneilteaches--I think the sauce would be great on chicken too. ;-)


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