Until earlier this year I had never really heard of Floyd Cardoz. I vaguely knew he was a chef in NYC, but I didn't know where or what kind of food he cooked. Then he competed on Top Chef Masters (and won) and all of a sudden my interest was really piqued. Unfortunately I never got to experience his food at Tabla, but I was pretty excited when I found out that he was participating in Meatopia 2011. His roasted kid goat dish there did not disappoint. I can't wait until I can try his dishes in an actual restaurant. Luckily for those of us who live in NYC, Floyd will be heading up Danny Meyer's upcoming North End Grill (originally scheduled to open around the end of the year, but I have no idea when it will actually open). Until then, I found this recipe online and decided that it sounded interesting.
And guess what - it was really interesting. I thought the combination of herbs (rosemary and basil) and spices (coriander and black peppercorns) was totally unique. Heirloom tomatoes and basil are a natural pairing, but to add toasted coriander, peppercorns and fresh ginger was a different touch that lent some warmth and spice. I really enjoyed it. And I thought that the combination of the moist, white fish and the spiced heirloom tomato salad was really wonderful. I was worried that the flavor of the rosemary would be a little overwhelming, but since there was so little rosemary and most of it didn't adhere to the fish you only had a hint of rosemary flavor. My only complaint was that grilling the striped bass in a grill pan didn't crisp up the skin as much as I wanted. In the future I would sear the bass in a skillet like we did with our Seared Sea Bass with Pan-Roasted Cauliflower to get some seriously tasty, crispy skin. In my opinion flaccid fish skin is just gross. In order for fish skin (whether the fish is salmon, bass, etc) to be palatable, it has to be really crispy. Maybe if we had been using an actual grill this would have worked out better, but until we have access to one of those (and even after we have access) I am going to go ahead and pan-roast/sear our fish in a pan rather than a grill pan. This is a really nice summery dish and it was a really nice/inventive way to use up some of the last heirloom tomatoes of the season.
Recipe after the jump!
Grilled Striped Bass with Indian-Spiced Tomato Salad
Available at Food & Wine
By Floyd Cardoz
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped basil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 medium shallot, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 pounds assorted heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1-inch dice
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
Four 6-ounce wild striped bass fillets, with skin
Freshly ground pepper
In a small skillet, toast the peppercorns and coriander seeds over moderately high heat until fragrant, 30 seconds. Transfer to a spice grinder and let cool completely. Grind the peppercorns and coriander to a powder.
In a large bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the olive oil with the ground spices, basil, vinegar, shallot, ginger and sugar. Add the tomatoes and toss to coat with the dressing. Season the tomatoes with salt.
Light a grill or heat a grill pan. In a shallow baking dish, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the rosemary. Season the bass with salt and pepper and coat the fillets with the rosemary oil. Grill the bass over moderately high heat, skin side down, until nicely charred and crisp on the bottom, 3 minutes. Turn the bass and cook until just opaque in the center, 3 minutes longer. (Alternatively, I would recommend following the instructions from my Seared Sea Bass with Pan-Roasted Cauliflower for cooking the sea bass - Heat a 12 inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, add striped bass fillets, skin side down. Sear fillets, skin side down, until crispy and golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. Turn fish over and cook until just cooked through, about 2 minutes.)
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to plates. Set the bass fillets on the tomato salad. Spoon the tomato dressing over and around the fish and serve.