Cook This: Our Pan-Roasted Apahap Recipe Is Completely Meat-Free but Does Not Sacrifice Flavor

March 3, 2017

It’s that time of the year again—when Catholics the world over banish the beef and skip the siren call of sisig in observance of Lent. The rule of abstinence traditionally forbids consuming the flesh of these warm-blooded animals thanks to its pleasurable nature—which can be tough for the meat-inclined, but there’s tons of tasty food out there that don’t involve cows, chickens or pigs.

Fish—a cold-blooded animal—becomes the protein of choice on Fridays of the season. There are a number of theories behind the origin of this practice; either way, it’s tasty, nutritious, and easy to prepare. Cooking with fish also works to our advantage as the Philippines is home to a diverse selection of different fish species. Here we use Apahapalso known as Barramundi or Asian Sea Bass. Its moist, firm flesh makes for a hearty bite, while its mild, relatively neutral flavor allows it to pair well with other components—a nutty puree of corn and potatoes; charred, miso-tinged brussel sprouts; and naturally sweet walnuts, for example.

As a finishing touch, the fish is painted with a sweet teriyaki glaze that glistens against its crisp skin. With the mingling of different flavors and textures—sweet and savory, crunchy and creamy—we can’t promise it won’t break the indulgence-shunning rule of the occasion. But we can promise you’ll be making this again and again, no matter what time of the year.

Pan-roasted Apahap with Sweet Corn Puree, Miso Brussel Sprouts and Walnuts

yield: 3 portions
time: 4 hours

ingredients: brussel sprouts

  • 300g brussel sprouts, outer leaves removed and stalk trimmed
  • 3 tbsp miso
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

ingredients: sweet corn puree

  • 300g potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • ½ can (around 200g) cream of corn
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dashi powder

ingredients: fish

  • 3 pcs apahap fillets, skin on
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp teriyaki sauce

ingredients: to finish

  • ¼ cup walnuts, roasted

procedure: brussel sprouts

  1. Cut across brussel sprouts, lengthwise.
  2. Fill a pot with water and season with salt. The water should taste slightly salty. Bring it to a boil.
  3. When water is boiling, add the brussel sprouts. Let them boil for 2 minutes, strain, and run under cold water. Set aside.
  4. Mix water and miso together, taste for seasoning, and set aside.

PROCEDURE: sweet corn puree

  1. Fill a pot with water and season with salt. The water should taste slightly salty.
  2. Add potatoes to water and bring to a boil then down to a simmer.
  3. While potatoes are simmering, blend the cream of corn and strain it through a sieve. Keep the cream and throw out the gritty bits.
  4. Test the potatoes with a skewer. When cooked it should go through easily with no resistance. Drain potatoes if soft.
  5. Mash potatoes with a masher and mix with strained cream of corn. Season with a bit of salt and dashi.
  6. Adjust seasoning. Set aside.

Procedure: Fish

  1. Heat a cast iron pan over high heat and add the oil.
  2. Place fish on a tray and pat dry with paper towel.
  3. Season fish fillets with salt.
  4. When oil is hot, place fish in pan, skin side down, making sure not to overcrowd the pan.
  5. Gently put some weight on fish with a turner to keep the fish from turning, but do not squeeze too hard against the pan.
  6. When the edges of fillet appear cooked, add the butter to the pan and baste the fish with it. The butter should brown and give a nutty aroma.
  7. When the butter is browned, turn fish over and continue cooking until fish is completely firm and flakes easily.
  8. Remove from heat and brush with teriyaki sauce.

Procedure: To Finish

  1. Warm the puree in a pot.
  2. Heat a pan and add the olive oil for the brussel sprouts.
  3. Toss brussel sprouts in miso mix.
  4. Fry sprouts, flat side down, in hot pan until brown and slightly nutty. Toss pan around just to warm the brussel sprouts.
  5. Lay out three plates. Scoop three equal amounts of puree in each plate. Lay fish on puree and arrange sprouts around fish.
  6. Garnish with toasted walnuts.
Patricia Baes SEE AUTHOR Patricia Baes

Trish thinks too much about everything—truth, existence.....and what’s on her plate. Her ongoing quest for a better relationship with food has led to a passion for cooking, gastronomy, and a newfound interest in its politics. She dreams of perfecting the art of making soufflé with her crappy toaster oven.

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