What's your most embarrassing food opinion?
I'll go first: I almost never voluntarily eat fish.
I know, it's weird. If someone cooks it, I'll eat it. If it's on a tasting menu, I'll eat it. It's fine. But you won't catch me ordering it on a menu over something else. Or cooking it at home.
Growing up in suburban Orlando in the 1990s, my family didn't partake in lots of fresh fish, and I never really developed a taste for it. I've long wanted to ease myself into the waters. I know enough to know what I don't know, and it's a hole in my culinary knowledge.
I'm easing in with this dish.
Some recipes are so undeniable you can't not make them, even if it's something you're not naturally drawn to. I generally file all of Alison Roman's recipes under that umbrella.
The cookbook author published a recipe in the New York Times recently for a "foolproof fish dish."
Roman uses just a few ingredients — tomatoes, garlic, shallots, olive oil — to poach a piece of white fish, promising the simple dish will be suitable for fish beginners. At this point, I would trust Roman with my life in the kitchen; her recipes burst with flavor and creativity, even when they only contain four ingredients.
So I went for it.
¼ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 small shallot, thinly sliced into rings
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound small, sweet tomatoes, halved
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
1 ¼ pounds fluke, halibut or cod, cut into 4 equal pieces
1 cup cilantro, tender leaves and stems
½ cup mint, tender leaves and stems
Limes, halved, for serving
Tortillas, toast or rice, for serving (optional)
Heat olive oil in a large skillet (use one with a lid) over medium-high heat. Add garlic and shallots and cook, swirling the skillet constantly until they are starting to toast and turn light golden brown, 2 minutes or so. Add red pepper flakes and swirl to toast for a few seconds. Remove from heat and transfer all but 1 tablespoon of the oil mixture to a small bowl.
Add tomatoes to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until the tomatoes burst and start to become saucy and jammy, 5 to 8 minutes. Add fish sauce (if using) and 1 ½ cups water, swirling to release any of the bits stuck on the bottom of the skillet.
Cook until the sauce is slightly thickened but still nice and brothy, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Season the fish with salt and pepper and gently lay the pieces in the brothy tomatoes. Cover the skillet and cook until the fish is opaque and just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes (slightly longer for a thicker piece of fish, like halibut).
To serve, transfer fish and brothy tomatoes to a large shallow bowl (or divide among four bowls). Drizzle with reserved bowl of chile oil, more olive oil and the crispy shallots and garlic. Top with cilantro and mint and serve with limes for squeezing over the top. Serve with tortillas, toast or rice, if you like.
Source: Alison Roman