Italian-style Sweet and Sour Fish Salad
1kg smallish white fish fillets, tarakihi, gurnard, blue cod
60ml (¼) cup milk
100ml olive oil
1 onion (finely sliced or chopped)
3 garlic cloves (crushed)
1 bay leaf (torn in half)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1¼ cups (315ml) white wine vinegar
250ml (1 cup) cold water
2 tbsp coarsely chopped parsley
1 cup dry breadcrumbs
125ml (½ cup) frying oil
40g (¼ cup) pine nuts
40g (¼ cup) raisins (soaked 10 minutes in boiling water)
¼ cup parsley picks
¼ cup dill picks
8 caramelised lemon halves
Remove any skin from fish fillets, rinse and pat them dry with absorbent kitchen paper. Cut each fillet into 2-3 pieces.
Break eggs into a large shallow dish, add a few pinches of salt and beat well with a fork. Beat in milk, then drop in pieces of fish. Stir gently to coat them well with the egg mixture, then leave them to soak for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Heat olive oil and butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook gently uncovered till soft and transparent.
Add bay leaf. Grind on some black pepper and cook mixture for 2-3 minutes.
Pour in white wine vinegar, let it bubble away for a minute, then add water and 1/4 tsp of salt. Cook gently for about 10 minutes then stir in parsley.
When marinade is ready, prepare fish. Tip breadcrumbs onto a piece of kitchen paper. Turn fish into a large colander set over a bowl and drain for 5 minutes. Drop fish pieces into breadcrumbs, one at a time, and pat on the crumbs.
When all the fish is prepared, heat most of the frying oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Drop in several pieces of fish and cook till golden. Turn carefully and cook the other side. Transfer to a large serving platter (don’t drain them). Continue frying fish, adding a little more oil if necessary (watch the heat; lower it to stop crumbs from burning if necessary).
When all fish fillets are done, spoon over three-quarters of the marinade, ensuring each piece of fish is anointed with some of the liquid. Leave it to cool, then cover loosely with waxed paper or a ventilated cover. Leave for several hours before eating.
Carefully transfer fish to its serving platter.
At functions, add raisins and pine nuts to remaining marinade and spoon over fish. Sprinkle with herb picks and garnish with caramelised lemon halves.
Photo Credit: Murray Lloyd