31 August 2012

Cornflake Crusted Fish with Chili Tartare Sauce and the Town of San Felice Circeo


When I was in college,  I would take cooked food from my parents' house on Sunday nights that would see me throughout the week in my dorm.  My only relationship in cooking then was to press the button of my rice cooker and to reheat what I got from our house.  I never thought of cooking from scratch and it never bugged me that I don't have any relationship with it even if my dorm was equipped with its own kitchen.  It was spic and span when I arrived and after 4 years, it was still how I found it.  Shiny and almost unused.  


Mid-way through college, a new cafe opened right in front of where I was living. It was small with just three tables and the menu only had a few entries. One of them was  fish fillet with tartare sauce. I have always loved this combination. I am not a mayo nor yogurt person but when they are made into this sauce, nothing else matters.   I had to stop myself at times from going towards its direction. It was a plain and simple direction to addiction.  I was crazy about their fish with tartare sauce.


About 20 years later, it crossed my path again when I saw a recipe of tartare sauce at the internet. I studied how to mix it. I decided to use my new bottle of piment d'espelette (Espelette pepper, a variety of chili pepper cultivated in the French commune of Espelette, hence the name.) that my friend sent to me from France to spice up the sauce.  Being a big user of paprika, espelette is a treasure to use too being just a tad more in chili factor.  I went for a Greek yogurt base instead of mayo for a lot of reasons but mainly for its texture. 



I did two versions of cooking the fish, fried and cooked in the oven. I also had two kinds of fresh fish fillet, red mullet and plaice.  I encrusted them with hand-crushed cornflakes to give a bit of coarse texture. The kids love cornflake crusted chicken so this one was a winner too. They didn't touch the sauce because it is white. There is distrust with white food in this house.  I preferred the texture and taste of the plaice cooked in the oven. The only reason I fried the red mullet was to rekindle my food memories of college. In this sense, it's always a matter of personal taste.
  

College seems just yesterday but as I counted with my fingers (two rounds of them!), reality struck me.  I'm old!  And furthermore, I officially stepped inside the dreaded line of middle age.  I am 40 and I have yet to get used to saying it. I normally don't care about my age but when this year arrived and all my friends were speaking about turning 40 (we all turn 40 this year), I dreaded every single day that I would turn middle-aged myself. 


On the positive side of it, I am grateful to be enjoying the fruits of life.  Every minute matters with family, food, good health and beautiful places.  So the day I turned 40, the kids stayed in their Nonna's (grandmother's) house while my husband took me to a beautiful town called San Felice Circeo and booked our lunch at Ristorante L'Argonauta at the beach.  


Life begins at 40.  

San Felice Circeo was a splendid place to start my new life and I wouldn't celebrate it in any other way.  

Thank you everyone for all the wonderful messages you sent me.  They eased the uneasiness of stepping across the line from young adulthood to old age. 

Here are the pictures of the wonderful place I am speaking about.  I hope you enjoy them like I did.  

Have a good weekend!


UPDATE (7 Nov. 2012):  The Traveling Vineyard has suggested wine pairings of Kesari 2012 Torrontes of La Rioja, Argentina and Bright Eyed Bird 2011 Pinot Grigio of California for this recipe.  Please click on this link to go to the page.  


San Felice Circeo is a seaside town at the Tyrrhenean Sea. It's beautiful, clean and bustling with holidaymakers. Being only about 100 kilometers from Rome makes it a popular beach place to get away from the city.  There are a number of interesting caves in the area, one of them Grotta Guattari, where the skull of a Neanderthal man was found. 







Capesante (scallops) & scampi (langoustine) ravioli, tagliolini allo scorfano (scorfion fish) & seafood antipasto.
Oven-roasted turbot (rombo) with string potatoes & tomatoes, Raw & marinated seafood platter and Coca-cola & chocolate cake (Delicious, brilliant & moist!)


Cornflake Crusted Fish with Chili Tartare Sauce

Ingredients:
Serves 2
  • fish fillet (Any kind of white fish.  I used red mullet & plaice. Amount depends on what kind of fish you choose.)
  • 1 tablespoon capers, finely chopped
  • 100 grams plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (adjust according to your taste)
  • fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • lemon zest
  • chives, chopped finely
  • salt
  • piment d'espelette (Espelette pepper, French red chili powder.  Replace with paprika if you don't have any.)
  • 2 - 3 cups cornflakes, crushed coarsely with your hands
  • olive oil or any oil for frying
  • salt
  • 1 - 2 eggs, beaten
  • flour
Directions:
  1. Prepare three containers with flour, eggs and cornflakes.
  2. Cover fish fillet flour.  Shake off excess.  Dip in egg then cover with cornflakes.  Shake off excess. 
  3. If you are baking, put in a baking pan and cook in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celcius for 15 minutes or until brown.
  4. If you are frying, put in a pan with enough oil.  When oil is hot, cook the fish and brown both sides.  When cooked, put them on a plate with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
  5. Meanwhile, while cooking the fish, mix yogurt, capers, parsley, lemon juice, piment d'espelette, chives, salt & lemon zest.  Adjust amount of ingredients according to your taste.

UPDATE (7 Nov. 2012):  The Traveling Vineyard has suggested wine pairings of Kesari 2012 Torrontes of La Rioja, Argentina and Bright Eyed Bird 2011 Pinot Grigio of California for this recipe.  Please click on this link to go to the page. 




18 comments:

  1. I love Circeo - and tarter sauce! I cant wait to try your recipe.

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    1. Thanks Gillian! I hope you will like the recipe!

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  2. Gorgeous pictures, Rowena - they leap off the screen! I love the cornflake crust on the fish and San Felice is beautiful - what a perfect place to celebrate your birthday!

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    1. Thanks Laura! This town is so simple but so appealing. It was a very nice discovery!

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  3. Congratulations on your birthday, looks like you celebrated in style!
    This is a wonderful recipe for fish fillets, Greek yogurt, capers, lemon juice, chives, parsley and piment d'espelette -many of my favorite ingredients, thanks sharing your recipe and beautiful photos;-)

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    1. I'm so glad you liked the recipe Patty. Thank you!

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  4. Happy Birthday again...and what a fun trip to celebrate it! By the way beautiful pictures..and fish and sauce is my kind of dish! I love the recipes too.
    Have a lovely weekend!

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    1. It had been a fun and relaxing trip. Thank you Sandra!

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  5. Happy birthday, Milady! Don't quite know how an obviously bright bird like you kind'of 'got it wrong'! Life begins . . . at whatever time you're at :) ! I hated 30! Sheesh, I wasn't in the 20s any more! I had learnt by 40 and had a laugh! My very best years began then and there - fifty truly was a fun time, sixty a huge party atmosphere and lots of food, wine and well, 'trying out' the 'opposite sex'! Shan't tell you the rest of the tale: you might tell me to 'get lost' - and, yes, there is quite a bit to the 'rest of the tale'! Don't believe I have ever appreciated life as much as I do now after a multitude of natural problems!! Oh, sorry! Loved the fish too :D !

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    1. LOL! I won't tell you to get lost. Your comments give my blog a lot of life. I hear ya. Life begins at whatever time you choose. I should look at the future years with a more fun outlook. Less wrinkles and more laugh lines. Cheers to you my friend! Thanks!

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  6. Your food photos are just as colourful as San Felice Circeo. That's an interesting tartare sauce.

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    1. Thank you Suzanne! I loved how the tartare sauce came out.

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  7. Looks like you had a wonderful birthday. Everything looks so good!
    I love tartar sauce but have never attempted to make my own, being just lazy hehe.
    And the crusty fish, mmm

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    1. It was my first time to make my own tartare sauce too. Easy to put it together. You shouldn't be lazy about it. Haha! Thanks Roxana!

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  8. Omg...after the pork belly and this cornflake crusted fish! And all the delicious food in the pictures. I want to live with you... :) Your picture of fish with tartare sauce... that looks delicious! I think geography makes a huge difference in one's presenation of the food. Your presentation and styling of food is just like how I see pictures of Italy. Always so colorful, vivid, and warm feeling. I'm loving your colorful boards. Your hard work of painting paid off! ;)

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    1. Thanks Nami! That's exactly how I like preparing my food. Fresh ingredients with natural colors.

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  9. Lovely post. How about linking it in to Food on Friday: Chillies? Cheers

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    1. Thanks Carole. I will check it out. What's the link?

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