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Seared Chesapeake Rockfish over Minted Pumpkin and Crispy Kale
Chef Barton Seaver of Café Saint-Ex and Bar Pilar—Washington DC
Adapted by
October 2006

Yield: 4 servings


  • 4 5-ounce pieces rockfish filet, skin on, brined for 45 minutes
  • 2 Tablespoons pure olive oil
  • Sea salt, to taste

  • 1 pound pumpkin, peeled, seeded, large dice
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 pinch chili flake
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • ½ cup mint leaves, picked
  • 1 Tablespoon butter

  • 3 cups soy oil
  • 1 bunch Lacinato kale, stemmed, torn into finger sized pieces
  • Salt, to taste

    To Assemble:
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil

For the Rockfish:
Preheat oven to 225°F. Remove fish from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet large enough to fit two pieces of rockfish. When oil is smoking, begin to sear rockfish 2 pieces at a time, skin side down until golden brown. Remove from pan and repeat with the next two pieces. When all 4 pieces are seared, bake skin-side up for 25 minutes.

For the Pumpkin:
Place pumpkin in pan and cover with cold water. Season generously with salt and a pinch of sugar. Slowly bring to a boil and strain immediately. Heat butter in a large skillet until golden brown. Add pumpkin in an even layer and scatter shallots over top. Sauté until caramelized then add chili flake and toss. Continue to sauté until the next side is colored then add juice, butter and mint. Season with salt and toss off heat to incorporate until butter melts into sauce.

For the Kale:
Heat oil to 300°F and submerge kale in small batches for about 5 minutes or until crispy. Gently remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Season immediately with salt and repeat process until all kale is cooked.

To Assemble:
Evenly divide pumpkin and mint on plates. Place fish skin-side up on top of pumpkin and season lightly with salt, reserving any pan juices from the fish. Top each piece with a small tuft of kale. Mix fish pan juices with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt, whisk to incorporate and spoon around plate.


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