Pompano "En Croute" with Fennel, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Meyer Lemon, Smoked Eggplant Puree and Sauce Vierge
Chef Zach Bell of Café Boulud – Palm Beach, FL
Adapted by StarChefs.com

Yield: 4 Servings

Pompano "En Croute" with Fennel, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Meyer Lemon, Smoked Eggplant Puree and Sauce Vierge on StarChefs.comIngredients:

    Pickled Japanese Eggplant:
  • 1 Japanese eggplant, cut crosswise into ¼-inch slices
  • Salt
  • 2 cups rice wine vinegar
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • Spice sachet (½ star anise, 3 allspice, 2 red chili peppers and 1/8 teaspoon each of fennel seeds, fresh fennel sprigs, cardamom pods, coriander seeds, and dried yellow mustard, tied in cheesecloth)

    Eggplant Puree:
  • Vegetable oil
  • 12 Japanese eggplants
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces white button mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons crème fraîche
  • 1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar

    Fennel Confit:
  • 16 baby fennels
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 shallot, quartered
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

    Sauce Vierge:
  • 2 Tablespoons fennel oil (from the Fennel Confit recipe)
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and small diced
  • 1 preserved Meyer or regular lemon, pulp removed and peel small diced
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 6 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and small diced
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped Niçoise olives
  • 3 Tablespoons fines herbes (combination of parsley, chervil, tarragon, and chives)
  • 1/2 lemon, peel removed and small diced

  • 4 (5- to 6-ounce) pompano fillets
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 4 1/8-inch slices white bread
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 12 sun-dried tomatoes

For the Pickled Japanese Eggplant:
Lightly score the surface of the eggplant slices. Salt the eggplant well and let sit for 20 minutes to allow the excess liquid to drain. Rinse the eggplant well and transfer to a non-reactive container, like Pyrex.

Combine the remaining ingredients and a pinch of salt in a large saucepan and bring to the simmer. Pour the hot liquid over the eggplant. Let cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate overnight before using.

For the Eggplant Purée:
The day before you serve this dish, prepare a hot grill. Brush the grill with vegetable oil. Grill the eggplants over a low flame until the pulp is tender and the skin is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Line a colander with cheesecloth. When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, cut each in half, and scrape out the pulp, discarding the skin, into the prepared cheesecloth. Gather, tie, and hang the cheesecloth overnight to remove the excess liquid.

The next day, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and onion and cook until the vegetables are tender and almost all the liquid in the pan has evaporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer the mushrooms and onions to a blender or the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade attachment. Add the drained eggplant pulp, crème fraîche, sherry vinegar, and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil; season to taste with salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.

For the Fennel Confit:
Put the fennel, garlic, shallot, and thyme into a large saucepan. Pour in enough olive oil to completely submerge the fennel; season with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot; cover and cook until the fennel is tender, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove the fennel from the oil and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Strain the oil through a fine mesh sieve and reserve for the sauce.

For the Sauce Vierge:
Heat the fennel oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the fennel, preserved lemon, and shallots; sweat until tender. Remove to a stainless steel bowl and cool. When cool, mix in diced tomato, olives, fine herbs and lemon dice.

For the Fish:
Season the fish with salt and pepper. Cut the bread into the shape of the fillet and gentle press each slice onto each fillet.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fillets, bread-side down, and cook for 3 minutes until golden brown. Flip the fillets over and cook for 3 minutes more until the fish is cooked through.

To Assemble and Serve:
If needed, separately rewarm the eggplant purée and the fennel confit with the sun-dried tomatoes. Place a spoonful of the eggplant purée in the center of 4 warm dinner plates. Top with a pompano fillet, bread-side up. Put 1 baby fennel confit, 3 sun-dried tomatoes, and a few slices of the pickled eggplant around the fish. Spoon the sauce around and serve immediately.

Wine Pairing:
Marechal 2002 Savigny-les-Beaune, Burgundy


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   Published: May 2006