Friday, October 23, 2009

Pan-Seared Wahoo with Clams, Cranberry Beans, and Kale

Happy Friday Divas!

So far, I've had a great start to my day! 

I managed to drag my sorry ass out of bed for my 7AM cardio class at my gym, no small feat.  While getting up is freaking hard - even the busting with crazy puppy energy at all times Adorable Monster isn't ready to wake up at the dark hour of six o'clock - I always feel fantastic after an hour of climbing up and down steps with weights.  It's such an ass-kicking class, that I only have to go a few times a week to stay in excellent shape.

Here's what my to-do list for the rest of the day looks like:

1) Placate stir crazy Adorable Monster who has been deprived of the dog park for a week due to ball removal surgery with chew toy from guilt-induced shopping binge at Petco. Never, I repeat, never go to Petco right after subjecting your puppy to elective ball chopping procedure!

2) Blog amazing new recipe (if I do say so myself!)!

3) Procrastinate working by reading Perez Hilton, Deadline Hollywood, The Scenester, Eater LA, etc.  This is a great use of my time, really, I swear it is!  In fact, I'm pretty sure this is exactly what all of you are doing right now if you're reading this!

4) After exhausting the blogosphere, finally work on never-ending novel that consumes all of my free time and few remaining brain cells (beginning with chapter 29, page 323)!  Will I ever be finished?  Ever?  Grrr....

5) Walk Monster, pick up poo, placate with treat!

6) Meet BDFF Ariana for lunch!  Woo-hoo!  This I am actually excited about!

7) Try to resist insanely powerful post-lunch napping urge in order to work more on never-ending novel, but most likely fail miserably and resort to nappage anyway.  You worker bees know what I'm talking about!  Don't tell me you've never dozed in your chair or on your boss' sofa!

8) Eat dinner (leftover Turkey & White Bean Chili, recipe forthcoming), watch Oprah double-header and pray that Kuzak comes home before 1AM Pacific Standard Time so I can mumble Wassup! before collapsing into bed to do it all over again tomorrow.  I love my life!!!

Alright, now that I'm high on my cardio class induced endorphin rush and buzzed on my almond milk latte, I'm ready to blog a new recipe!  This one's a doozy, I'm not going to lie, but if it's any consolation, it's far simpler than the Thomas Keller recipe in Bouchon that inspired it!  Oh yeah, and did I mention it was delicious?  Here's how it came into being.

The process began at the Hollywood Farmers Market!  My cooking is always based on great ingredients.  In fact, I always tell folks that the simplest way to make food taste AMAZING is to simply buy AMAZING ingredients.  Seriously, is anything better than an heirloom tomato in season, sprinkled with a little sea salt, and maybe, if you want to get really fancy, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil?

No, nothing is better than that!

The key ingredients I procured were a beautiful, fresh fillet of Wahoo and two handfuls of manila clams from J&P West Coast Seafood (at the Farmers Market).  My immediate concept was that I wanted to use the clams and create a bouillabaisse-like broth to serve with the fish.  I also purchased some great organic Lacinato Kale, my favorite varietal, which I love to eat in the fall and winter months.  To lend this dish some extra fall-wattage and imbue it with meaty undertones, I decided that I would serve the fish over a mixture of cranberry beans, chicken sausage and kale!

So where did I turn next?

To Thomas Keller of course!  I whipped out my heavier-than-hell Bouchon cookbook, his take on French Bistro food, and flipped to his recipe for Shellfish Broth buried in the back of the book.  I figured if anyone knew how to make a great stock that I could base my dish around, Mr. Keller did!  As I read the recipe, my face fell.

His broth had more than 19 individual ingredients, including one listed for Fish Fumet which referred me to another page.  It also called for a pound of mussels, a pound of clams and a pound of oysters to be used to flavor the broth and then discarded, something I don't think I could possibly do! If I was lucky enough to stumble into three pounds of that shellfishy goodness, I'd much rather eat it than toss it.  Then, I flipped to the Fish Fumet recipe, which itself had 12 individual ingredients and necessitated a two-day process. 

I wanted to eat my dinner that night.

While I'm certain that Chef Keller's Shellfish Broth is heavenly, it wasn't going to be practical for a little old home cook like myself.  On a side note, I can't wait for him to open his new Bouchon restaurant in Beverly Hills!  It was time to turn on my cooking brain and make some serious modifications for my recipe.

I have to say, my simpler version of a Shellfish Broth turned out beautifully.  It was full and rich and didn't require the sacrifice 3 pounds of shellfish to the Bouchon gods to make it.  My little secret?  Anchovies!  I always keep some good ones in in my cupboard and they're a great way to make a quick fish stock.

The rest of the recipe came forward in a relatively straight-forward way.  I opted to pan roast the Wahoo, as opposed to poaching it in the fish stock.  I wanted the contrasting texture achieved by searing in the pan and also figured that Wahoo might not taste ideal when poached.  On the other hand, I did steam the clams in the Shellfish Broth, which worked out fantastic.  The other components, the kale, the cranberry beans and the chicken sausage, were merely sauteed together.  At the end, everything was combined into one fantastic dish!

Note: This recipe would taste great with either Halibut, Sea Bass or Black Cod substituted for the Wahoo.  In fact, the next time I make it, I plan to use either Sea Bass or Black Cod and poach the fish in the broth!  I'll report back on the results!
Wahoo with Clams, Cranberry Beans and Kale
Serves 2 people

2 Wahoo fillets (4 ounces each)
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 cup cranberry beans or pinto beans, cooked and drained
1 1/2 cups kale, chopped
1 chicken sausage, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb manila clams
1 cup shellfish broth (recipe follows)
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt & pepper

shellfish broth:
1 shallot, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup white wine
4 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs parsley
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp saffron
3 anchovy fillets packed in olive oil, rinsed, patted dry & chopped
3 cups filtered water
2 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper


To make the shellfish broth, add the olive oil to a pot and heat over medium-high heat.  Add the shallot and carrots and saute for a few minutes, until softened.  Add the garlic and anchovies and cook for another minute.  Push the mixture to the side and add the tomato paste, cooking it alone for a minute before stirring it into the mixture.  Cook for another minute.

Add the white wine and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the herbs, saffron, peppercorns and filtered water and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes, or until reduced to about 1 cup.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Next, head the olive oil in a pan.  Add the garlic and saute for a minute.  Then, add the chicken sausage and cranberry beans, cooking for another few minutes.  Finally, add the kale and saute until tender, about 8-10 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

To make the wahoo, season both sides of the fillets with salt and pepper.  Heat the grapeseed oil in a saute pan over medium high heat until almost smoking.  Add the fish and cook for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from heat and allow to rest.

Finally, to make the clams, bring the shellfish stock to a simmer.  Add the clams and cover tightly.  Cook for about 5 minutes, or until all the clams have opened.

To plate, place the cranberry beans, kale and sausage mixture in the bottom of a wide-bottomed bowl.  Top with a piece of fish.

Ladle the clams and broth over the fish.  Sprinkle with parsley, lemon juice and fresh ground pepper.  If desired, serve with toasted bread rubbed with olive oil. Enjoy!

Cookbooks Mentioned:

Bouchon by Thomas Keller

Along with Keller's The French Laundry Cookbook, this is a must-have for the serious home chef!  Yes, it's fussy and over-the-top, but that's precisely what makes it so great.  Even glancing at the amazing photography will set your palate on fire, and you'll learn a ton just by reading it alone without ever picking up a roasting pan or firing up your stove top.  Most importantly, you'll come to understand the technical precision that makes Chef Thomas Keller such a genius cook!  CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THIS BOOK!

Source for Ingredients:

wahoo and manila clams from J&P West Coast Seafood (Hollywood Farmers Market)

organic kale, organic shallots, organic thyme and organic garlic from Hollywood Farmers Market

cranberry beans, organic lemons, organic chicken sausage, organic tomato paste, organic parsley, organic bay leaves, grapeseed oil, organic olive oil, anchovy fillets from Whole Foods

white wine and Spanish saffron Trader Joe's

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