BLUEFISH ON A VEGGIE BED
Last month it was the invasion of the summer squash we had to deal with. Now it's the attack of the Killer Tomatoes. The house is full of 'em. Aiyeee!
Fortunately, though, around here, we'll never tire of tomatoes the way that we find squash and zucchini getting a little boring. There's always plenty to do with 'em, and with a little balance of proportions, FRESH tomatoes as a culinary ingredient rarely "war" with table wine the way that thick, tangy tomato sauces sometimes do.
The other night, I mentioned our frequent summer use of "salsa cruda," a bowl of chopped 'maters and herbs (basil, mm at room temperature tossed with hot pasta. Last night, I decided to evolve the concept one step by taking a similar concoction but just barely heating the tomatoes through.
It started with a slab of snapping-fresh bluefish that turned up at the local fish store in a condition and at a price too good to ignore. Bluefish is a rather oily and, um, flavorful fish, the kind of thing that serious fish-eaters love but that always make me look for an accompaniment to offset and "cut" the fishy taste.
In this instance, I decided to grill the fish while whipping up a simple, tasty bed of barely-cooked vegetables to serve it on. So about an hour before dinner, I took a 1 1/2-pound bluefish fillet (skin on), washed it, rubbed it with a little olive oil a lot of lime juice, and ground black pepper all over it. Left it to steep for a while, and started the simple vegetable accompaniment: Sauteed a quantity (probably about 1 tablespoon) of very finely minced garlic in a couple tablespoons of olive oil, this time choosing the LOW-heat alternative so the garlic would give up a lot of its flavor to the oil without ever turning dark. After the garlic was well cooked and the oil aromatic, I stirred in about 1/2 cup each of thick-sliced onion and green pepper hacked into 1/4 to 1/2-inch squares) and continued sautéeing until they were just cooked. Turned off heat, set aside. Chopped a couple of BIG garden tomatoes into rough cubes and left them to steep in their own juices with salt, pepper and lots of chopped fresh basil. When it was almost dinner time, started grilling the bluefish over hot coals (about 8 minutes for an inch- thick fillet). I reheated the garlic, onion and green pepper mixture and tossed the tomatoes and basil into the same pan, covering and turning the heat almost all the way off, just to heat the tomatoes through without really cooking them. A shot or two of hot sauce, pour this tasty melange onto a serving plate, and wham, put the bluefish on top of it.
GREAT flavor combination (if I do say so myself) and went exceptionally well with last night's Caymus Sauvignon Blanc, an oaky, "Chard-style" dry white.