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fish frydays

Easter is quickly approaching which means Lent is nearly over… and I have only posted one fish recipe… sorry! I’m not actually into frying fish at home… we’ll leave that to the church social halls. But with two Fridays left – including Good Friday, it’s not too late to get a fish recipe posted, so how about a little mahi-mahi and shrimp?

Contrary to popular belief the mahi-mahi is not related to the dolphin family of mammals. They are one of the fastest-growing fish and are carnivorous- feeding on crabs, squid, and mackerel. Mahi-mahi’s sweet taste and firm flesh make it perfect for poaching; along with halibut, swordfish, and salmon- just in case you are looking for a good substitute.

If you eat a lot of fish, a fish poacher is a great pan to have in your kitchen. Often thought of for cooking whole fish, it works wonderfully with fillets as well. If you are in the market for a poacher, you can check out this link or visit your local kitchen store. If you don’t have and are not interested in a poacher, no problem, a larger skillet with a tight-fitting lid will work just fine. And please don’t be intimidated or turned off by the long list of ingredients… the majority are either spices or items just dropped into the poaching liquid.

As a vegetable side, I made sautéed fennel and red peppers with capers and olives. I then used the fennel stalks in the poaching liquid and the fronds as garnish. I’ll be posting that recipe tomorrow, but in case you want to do your grocery shopping today here is the ingredient list: 1 fennel bulb, 1 small onion, 1 red bell pepper, capers, and Kalamata olives. And if you decide against this side dish, leave the fennel out of the poaching liquid – it is listed as optional.

Poached Mahi-Mahi atop Creamed Celery Root

1 large celery root
1 cup whole milk or fat-free half-and-half
18 raw medium shrimp with peels and tails
3 cups water
1 cup dry white wine
1 onion, peeled and cut into quarters
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and cut into coins
1 celery stalk, cut into 1/4-inch slices
3 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
Stalks and trimmings from 1 fennel bulb (optional)
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 bay leaf
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Freshly ground white pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
6 skinless mahi-mahi fillets (each about 1 1/2 inches thick)
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Reserved fennel fronds for garnish (optional)

Using a sharp knife, cut off the thick and gnarly peel from the celery root. Place peel in a bowl of cold water and swish around to remove any dirt, lift out of the water, and place in a strainer. Dice the peeled celery root into 1/4-inch pieces and place in a small saucepan. Cover celery root with milk and place over very low heat, cooking until vegetable is very tender when pierced with a paring knife, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile peel and devein the shrimp, reserving the peels. Place the shrimp in a small bowl and set it aside. Place the shrimp peels and tails, along with the washed celery root peelings, into a fish poacher or a large heavy skillet. Add the water, wine, onion, lemon, carrot, celery, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaf, thyme, and crushed red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until flavors blend, about 15 minutes.

When the celery root is tender, transfer both the solids and the liquid from the saucepan into a food processor or blender. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and puree until smooth. Season with 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of white pepper, and blend again. Return mixture to saucepan and place over the lowest heat possible, stirring frequently until mixture has thickened slightly.

Only the first piece of fish is added here so that the poaching liquid and solids are visible – notice the celery root simmering in the background.

Add fish in a single layer to poacher or skillet. Cover and simmer until fish is opaque in the center, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fish to a platter. Dispose of the majority of the solids left in the poacher by using the lift-out tray or if cooking in a skillet, use the slotted spoon. Add shrimp to the remaining fish cooking liquid. Simmer until shrimp are just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Using the tray or a slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to a platter with fish. Tent with foil to keep warm.

While the fish is poaching, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a small skillet, when butter is foaming, add the panko and stir constantly until browned. Remove from the skillet immediately, or the panko will continue to cook and possibly burn.

Divide the creamed celery root evenly between 6 dinner plates, spreading in the center of the plate in a thin layer. Top each with 1 mahi-mahi fillet. Sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons of the browned panko and 3 shrimp. Garnish with fennel fronds, if desired.

Serves 6

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