Pan-Roasted Golden Tilefish In Smoked Tomato Creole Sauce
Chef Cindy Hutson – Ortanique on the Mile
Pan-Roasted Golden Tilefish:
6 5-oz. filets of fresh golden tilefish or other mild white fish cut about 1 inch thick (see cooking note)*
Salt and pepper, to taste
¼ cup canola-olive oil blend
Smoked Tomato Creole Sauce (for about 2 quarts)
Cherry wood chips, soaked and drained, for smoking
12 plum tomatoes, smoked
3 ears corn, smoked
1 can (14.5-oz.) crushed tomatoes
¼ cup (4 tbsp) Herb Butter (or ¼ cup butter and ¼ tsp. each of dried thyme, oregano and rosemary)
½ cup sliced garlic (about two bulbs or 20 cloves)
1½ cup onions, diced (about 2 medium onions)
1 cup diced celery
1 cup finely diced carrots
2 lbs. small new red potatoes, skin on, cut in half
2 cups diced Andouille sausage (optional)
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
2 tsps. ground coriander
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tbsps. Kosher salt
¼ cup masa harina
1 cup white wine
3 cups bottled clam stock
½ cup fresh thyme leaves
Prepare smoked tomato creole sauce
Prepare a grill or smoker outside in a well-ventilated area or use a stovetop smoker (Camerons makes a good one). [Download and consult directions from the Internet on how to smoke the corn and tomatoes]
Set tomatoes and corn to smoke over cherry wood chips. Be aware that this entire process may take up to a couple of hours depending on your smoker. I recommend smoking for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how heavy you want the smoke flavor.
In a 14-quart Dutch oven or heavy stockpot, melt the herb butter. Add garlic and onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add celery, carrots, potatoes, sausage, spices and salt and continue sautéing for 5 minutes.
Add masa harina, stirring away the lumps. Add wine and simmer for 1 minute while stirring continuously. Add clam stock and allow the mixture to simmer.
Remove tomatoes and corn from the smoker or grill and allow them to cool enough to handle. Seed tomatoes as best you can and dice. Cut the corn from the cobs. Add tomatoes and corn to the sauce and continue cooking on a low simmer for about 20 minutes. If you feel the sauce is too thin, transfer about 1½ cups to a blender. Blend on low speed and pour back into the sauce. Do not add more masa harina or any kind of thickener. Reserve the thyme for the last step.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Season golden tilefish on both sides with salt and pepper. In a skillet, heat oil until very hot and sear the fish until it is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip over and do the same to the other side. *NOTE: the timing on this step is dependent on the thickness of the fish filets – only sear to color the outside – the fish will finish cooking in the oven.
Remove the seared filets from skillet and place in an ovenproof tray. Cook in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes, until fish has turned opaque, with the flesh inside retaining a slight tinge of pink. Remove and let rest.
Season to taste. Stir in thyme right before serving to preserve the color.