Seared Branzino with Spicy Thai Vegetables
1/3 cup carrot, Julienne
1/3 cup celery, Julienne
1/3 cup bamboo shoot, Julienne
1/3 cup scallions, just the white part, Julienne
1 Tbs. ginger, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 green Thai chiles, sliced in half & deseeded
2 fillets of Branzino, skin left on
1/8 cup rice flour
3 Tbs. safflower cooking oil
3 Tbs. sesame oil
1 Tbs. Westerly Sauvignon Blanc
1 Tbs. soy sauce, in two parts
1 Tbs. Thai fish sauce
1Tbs. rice wine vinegar
1 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. Thai oyster sauce
Cooked white rice
1/3 cup cilantro leaves, for garnish
Pat the fish dry with paper towels. Dust lightly with rice flour on both sides. With a sharp knife, cut three diagonal slits across the middle of the skin, leaving the edges intact. Coat the bottom of a cast iron or saute pan with a thin layer of cooking oil and heat until hot but not smoking. Place the fish, skin side down in the pan; it should sizzle.
Turn heat down to medium low and cook until the skin is browned. Flip the fish over and cook for a minute or just until it starts to firm up. It will continue cooking a bit after being removed from the heat, so do not overcook. Remove from pan and cover lightly with foil to keep warm. Skim the bottom of a sauté pan with sesame oil and sweat (cook without browning) the ginger, and garlic.
Add the wine, 1/2 Tbs. of soy sauce, fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, oyster sauce and Thai chile. Turn up the heat until the liquid is at a low boil with small bubbles and reduce by a third. Add the scallion, carrot, celery and bamboo shoot and cook briefly until slightly softened but still retaining good texture. Adjust seasoning, using the rest of the soy sauce if needed. Plate the rice, the vegetables, and the fish, pouring the sauce over the fish at the end and garnishing with fresh cilantro.