Often called 'poorman’s lobster,' tilefish is lean, mild and mouth-wateringly delicious. One of the best techniques for cooking firm white fleshed fish is pan-searing. Cooked for exactly the right amount of time, searing locks in moisture and flavour, and as the flesh turns opaque and starts to flake, it's done. Tilefish doesn't fall apart like some other white fish and stays exceptionally firm and moist, with the skin crisping up beautifully in the hot pan. This fragrant and aromatic dish compliments the fish’s delicate flavour with woodsy shiitake and cremini mushrooms, fresh green asparagus, small new potatoes and sweet yellow onions, bathed in a rich and buttery chicken stock reduction and finished with a flurry of chives or micro greens. Grouper, halibut, sea bass or black cod would make good substitutes if you can't find tilefish, but it's is an exceptionally rich and voluptuous fish, and well worth the search.
Pan Seared Tilefish with Wild Mushrooms, Asparagus & Onions
2 6 oz fresh tilefish fillets, scaled with skin on
4 small new potatoes, boiled and cut in half
1/2 lb asparagus, trimmed and sliced diagonally into 2-inch pieces
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
1 cup cremini mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 small yellow onions, peeled and julienned
3 tbsp olive oil
5 tbsp butter
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 bunch chives, chopped for garnish
Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Stir in one tablespoon of butter, reduce the heat to low and cook until the mushrooms are lightly browned and the pan is dry, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, transfer to a medium saucepan and set on low heat to keep warm.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the skillet. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat, stirring a few times until lightly browned for about 8 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper then add to the mushrooms. In the same skillet, quickly sauté the asparagus spears over high heat for two minutes. Then add to the mushrooms with the new potatoes together with the chicken stock. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, or until the vegetables are warmed through, seasoning with salt and pepper.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Season the tilefish fillets with salt and pepper and sear, skin side down, until the skin is browned and crisp, about 3 minutes. Turn the fillets over, and cook another minute until the fish is just cooked through. Stir in half of the chopped chives into the vegetables and stir to combine.To serve, divide the vegetable mixture among 2 pre-warmed plates and set a tilefish fillet on top. Garnish with the remaining chives and serve at once.