Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Pinenut and Rosemary Crusted Basa Fillets with Crispy Fried Capers

The crunchy crust on the Basa fillets was made from breadcrumbs (no more left in the freezer now), pinenuts, fresh rosemary and garlic, giving texture to the firm white fish, as well as a punch of flavour. I used up the last of the capers, draining and shallow frying them to make a garnish, and adding the reserved juice to some mayonnaise to make a quick sauce for the fish and fingerling potatoes.

To make the crust, place the following into a food processor:

3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons pinenuts
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Process until crumbly, then add in:

1 teaspoon sundried tomato oil

Process to combine. Set aside until needed.

Turn the oven on to heat up to 350F, and line an ovenproof baking dish with parchment paper. Pat your fish dry with paper towel, and place onto the parchment paper.

Divide the crust between the two fillets and gently press to adhere.

Place into the oven to bake.

While the fish is baking, drain 2 tablespoons capers, reserving the liquid. Heat a small pot of vegetable oil until it is hot enough to shallow fry, around 350F, or if you don't have a thermometer it should spatter if a drop of water is flicked into it.

Have a plate with paper towel ready for the fried capers.

Carefully add the capers to the oil, and fry until crispy, and popped open.

Remove the fried capers, and place onto the paper towel to drain and cool.

To make the caper mayonnaise, mix together:

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 - 3 teaspoons of reserved caper liquid
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

When the fish is cooked, the crust will be crispy and golden, the flesh of the fish firm.

It should take about 20 minutes, depending on the size of your fillets.

Remove from the oven.

To serve, place a fish fillet on each plate and garnish with a sprinkle of fried capers. Place a dollop of the mayonnaise on the plate, or pass it at the table. I served this with grilled red peppers and zucchini, and some boiled fingerling potatoes.

  • The crust can be made ahead; you can also make a larger amount and freeze it for another time.
  • Any nuts or herbs can be used; try adding spices such as cayenne pepper or smoked paprika.
  • When frying the capers be sure that the oil is hot enough, or they will soak up the oil, instead of instantly crisping and popping open. 
  • Be very careful; add them carefully, do not drop them from up high! The oil will bubble up so do not get too close to it.
  • Remove the capers from the oil as soon as they are crispy, and drain. They only take a couple of minutes at the most to fry.
  • The crispy capers can be used as a garnish for salads, seafood pasta dishes, on bagels with smoked salmon.
  • The amount of reserved caper liquid you add to the mayonnaise depends on your taste; I added 3 teaspoons. This was a nice variation on tartar sauce...smooth, tart and creamy.
  • Lemon juice can be used instead of caper liquid, making a lemon mayonnaise...add a bit of zest as well to increase the lemon flavour.
  • Any firm fish can be used...salmon, cod, halibut to name a few choices.

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