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Sous Vide Swordfish, Spiced Pea Puree, Mustard Seed “Caviar,” Hibiscus

I’m proud of this dish, mostly because it really feels like mine. I’ve come to understand that innovation in cooking is mostly just having enough experiences to start sticking pieces of them together to make something new, and that’s exactly what this dish represents. We’ve been cooking and eating and meeting chefs non-stop for the past 8 months and I think I’m starting to understand why some dishes really invigorate me while others leave me a little hollow: wondering if food is actually important enough to deserve a whole lifetime of my devotion.

I think hitting the line between sophistication and satisfaction is the hardest part about fine dining. If you go too far towards sophistication the food too often loses its soul, which at the end of the day is the thing that makes it magic. Food inspires us and brings us together, but ultimately its beauty is that it sustains us at the most fundamental level.

It’s not that I’m saying that food can’t be incredibly sophisticated while still satisfying that essential human craving, but I’m realizing just how difficult that is to do. It’s the difference between leaving a fancy meal feeling like you’ve been on an incredible trip vs feeling like you’ve been watching an interesting show. More than ever I applaud the elite few restaurants that manage to deliver ultra high-end food with a consistent voice and soul, but I think the immediate future of the dining scene will be broader innovation in the upper-mid range; I believe restaurants and chefs that don’t take themselves too seriously will start driving technique and style as much as Noma, Faviken and the rest have done in the last 15 years. And I don’t mean going from 20 to 8 courses; I mean 3 course meals that you can actually afford once every few weeks.

The point is that I love this dish because is visually appealing, interesting (if you haven’t used hibiscus in a savory dish, you’ll be hooked on its ability to add tart and floral notes to the bite), but at the end of the day very satisfying. It’s fun to eat and makes you feel good (I think). Hope you enjoy!

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Sous Vide Swordfish, Spiced Pea Purée, Mustard Seed “Caviar,” Hibiscus

This is one of the best dishes we have ever developed; it delivers on many levels and is equal parts simple and sexy. Delicately sous vide swordfish, a creamy and spicy pea-avocado purée, toasted mustard seeds that look like caviar but are pleasantly crunchy and bitter, and a tart hibiscus powder that really brings the dish together. It’s nice to have some mirin, limes, or rice wine vinegar (preferably all three) on hand to adjust the final acidity/sweetness levels.

Servings: 10 People
Prep Time: 2 Hours
Cook Time: 2 Hours

Ingredients

Fish and garnishes
Special equipment

Instructions

Pea puree
  1. Heat olive oil in dutch oven or saucepot over medium-high heat. Add onions and sweat for 1 minute. Add ginger and garlic and cook for 1-3 minutes, making sure not to brown.
  2. Add cumin seeds and chipotle powder and toast until cumin seeds are fragrant but not burnt, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add peas and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. If using frozen peas, it will take longer (about 5-6 minutes).
  4. Add vegetable stock and reduce to a simmer, cook covered for 10 minutes.
  5. Add coconut milk or cream and butter (if using), return to simmer.
  6. Remove from heat and add avocados and cilantro.
  7. Blend with an immersion blender until consistency is smooth. Taste and add salt to taste, adjust acidity with lime juice or rice wine vinegar, sweetness with mirin.
Mustard seed caviar
  1. Add enough of a neutral oil (canola, safflower) to coat mustard seeds (quantity of mustard seeds is totally up to you- it’ll keep for a month or two) to a pot and bring to medium heat, but not smoking.
  2. Add mustard seeds and toast for just a minute until they begin to pop.
  3. Remove from heat and add a touch more oil to cool it down and stop the cooking process.
  4. Store in an airtight, opaque container away from the sun.
Sous vide swordfish
  1. Cut swordfish into small, rectangular or triangular portions (as many as you have people).
  2. Add to a ziplock bag with 1:4 brine (1 salt: 4 water). Leave in fridge for 1 hour. If you want to go farther in advance (up to 2.5 hours), decrease the brine to 1:6.
  3. Bring large pot of water to 130° F with a sous vide machine.
  4. Drain liquid and rinse swordfish by repeatedly filling the bag with cold water. Add olive oil enough to cover swordfish and use multiple bags if necessary (overcrowding the ziplock will lead to unevenly cooked fish).
  5. Lower ziplocks into the water and use the water to create a seal, then zip up the bags and hang the ends of them over the sides of the pot so that the fish is sitting in the water, completely sealed and free of air. If you have a vacuum sealer that is ok with liquids, you can also use that instead.
  6. Cook for about 1 hour, until the fish is cooked through (it will change color to an off white and start to feel flaky). Move the fish around a few times during the cooking process to ensure that the fish cooks evenly. If the fish is done before you are ready to serve, reduce the heat to 110° F and hold for up to a half hour. We almost always do this because it ensures the fish is ready when we are.
  7. If you have a “oh shit” moment when you take the fish out (it’s not cooked through), lay it out on a baking sheet and put it in a 350° oven for 5-10 minutes, checking often. Trust me, we’ve all been there.
Hibiscus, powder and candied
  1. For powder, simply grind 1 cup of the dried flowers in a spice grinder until they are a very fine powder.
  2. Take the other cup of hibiscus flowers and add them to a pot with plenty of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Then drain them and lay them out on a paper towel to dry for a few minutes.
  3. Toss the tender flowers with the sugar and a pinch of salt. Bring a cast iron pan to medium heat and add the flowers. Stir continuously until the sugar is dissolved and the flowers have stopped steaming as aggressively, about 3 minutes. Remove the flowers from the pan and lay them out to cool. They can be stored in the freezer indefinitely so we make batches in bulk.
Plate the dish
  1. If cool, reheat the pea puree to a very gentle simmer.
  2. Add the puree to the bottom of a wide bowl. Top with a handful of pea shoots.
  3. Using the fine mesh strainer, dust a healthy amount of hibiscus powder onto one side of the plate.
  4. Lay the swordfish on top of the shoots and place a generous pinch of candied hibiscus flowers somewhere on the plate (we usually do next to the fish, opposite the powder. Top with a teaspoon or so of the “caviar” and serve at once.
swordfish

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