Daily Catch: Red Drum Fish Fillet on Green Basil & Spinach Risotto

Note to the kosher crowd: Sheila is a seafood restaurant but the dish could be replicated at home without the shellfish and be completely kosher.

As many of you know, Sheila is one of my favorite restaurants in Israel. If you haven't caught the article at The Washington Post, you can read it here. In addition to the recipes that appeared in The Washington Post, I was fortunate enough that Sharon, Chef Cohen that is, shared with me, one of my all time favorite restaurant dishes, his green risotto recipe. Here, I am happy to share it with you. It's absolutely phenomenal.

Sheila 182 Ben Yehuda St., Tel Aviv. 03-522-1224

Daily Catch: Red Drum Fish Fillet on Green Basil and Spinach Risotto
Recipe by Chef Sharon Cohen, Sheila Restaurant, Tel Aviv
4 servings
(30 min prep time)

½ kg (1.012lbs) Arborio rice
100 gr (3.527oz) butter
1 cup good white wine
Approximately 1 ½ liters (6 cups)  hot fish stock*
5 fresh sage leaves
5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 medium onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced (half moons)
½ cup grated parmesan
Salt to taste
4 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
10 blanched asparagus, halved and sliced into half lengthwise
20 blanched string beans, sliced lengthwise
100 grams (3.527oz) mussels (optional)
200 grams (7.054oz) calamari, sliced into rings (optional)
2 tablespoons lemon

4 tablespoons of basil and spinach puree ingredients:
Small bunch of basil, leaves only
70 grams (approx 2.5oz) fresh spinach leaves

Basil spinach puree directions:
In boiling water blanch basil and spinach leaves for 1-2 minutes, drain and puree to a smooth consistency

Asparagus and beans directions:
Blanch asparagus and beans in boiling water for two minutes and remove to an ice bath.

Risotto Directions: (entire process shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes)
In a wide pot with a heavy base, melt the butter on medium heat and sauté onions until soft but do not caramelize onions and butter. Add the sliced garlic and sage leaves and continue sweating for a couple more minutes. 
Add the rice and mix with a wooden spoon until rice is translucent. Make sure the rice does not caramelize and get crispy. Add a cup of wine while constantly mixing. When the wine reduces, add gradually the stock while mixing and reduce. Cook the rice at all times on medium and make sure there is always liquid in it bubbling on a gentle bubble.
2-3 minutes before the risotto is done, add the calamari and mussels. 1 minute before the risotto is done, cover the pot with a lid to allow the mussels to open. Keep covered for a minute, take lid off, make sure all mussels are open and then add the mascarpone, basil/spinach puree, asparagus and beans and mix. Take off the heat, add lemon and parmesan and mix. The green risotto popping into the mussels looks beautiful. Taste and adjust for salt.

4  6 oz fish fillets with skin on, Red Drum or other firm white fish
Salt to taste
Fresh thyme leaves
Black pepper to taste
20 gr (0.705oz) butter

Coat the fish fillet well with salt, pepper and a few thyme leaves. Heat up a heavy frying pan, melt the butter and warm up butter on high heat until it turns golden. Add the fish fillets skin side down and sear for 20 seconds until golden on high heat. Turn down heat to low and continue cooking skin side down for another minute. Turn fish to flesh side down and sear on high heat for 20 seconds until golden. Remove from pan into a plate.

If fish isn’t cooked through put in a preheated 400F oven for 2-4 minutes.

Note: The basil/spinach puree, blanching the asparagus and beans and cooking the fish fillet can be done while the risotto is cooking.  The total cooking time is 30 minutes if working simultaneously on different components of the dish.

Plating Red Drum fish fillet on Green Basil and Spinach Risotto
In four separate plates, scoop the seafood risotto evenly. Place a fish fillet on the risotto and serve.

*Fish stock can be made in advance by adding fish bones, heads and tails to boiling water with celery, carrots, onions, garlic, thyme. parsley and salt. Sharon of Sheila Restaurant also adds some grated tomatoes to the stock.  Sharon’s tip: do not cook the stock longer than 40 minutes. You could also find excellent ready-made fish stock in your market aisles.