1 bag salsify (roughly 6 pieces, look for this root vegetable in your local natural foods store, or grow your own from seed.)
3 tablespoons chilled butter, cubed
salt, as needed
white pepper, as needed
neutral oil such as sunflower or canola, as needed
½ teaspoon Banyuls vinegar (sherry vinegar works as well)
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup semolina
1 tablespoon Wondra flour
1 bunch watercress
1 24-ounce skate wing fillet
Prepare the salsify:
Fill a 3-quart pot three-quarters full with cold water. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze all the juice into the water. Cut off the ends of the salsify and peel off all the black skin exposing the white flesh. Rinse off the salsify to remove any of the remnants of the skin. Using a sharp knife, cut slices of the salsify in a bias cut about ½-inch thick. Place all the cut pieces into the pot. Season the water with 2 tablespoons of salt and bring water to a simmer, cooking on low heat for about 45 minutes, or until the salsify is tender. Drain the salsify, reserving 1 cup of the liquid and discarding the rest. Place half of the salsify on a rack to cool and put the other half into a blender with ¼ cup of the reserved liquid, 3 tablespoons cold butter, a teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground white pepper, and purée until smooth and silky.
You may have to stop occasionally and push down the contents until the blades catch. Remove the contents of the blender with a rubber spatula into a small bowl and keep warm. Heat a medium sauté pan, add 1 tablespoon of neutral oil and cook the bias-cut salsify with a pinch of salt until light golden brown. Keep warm.
Prepare the oranges:
Zest the oranges with a fine microplane. Spread out the zest on a plate and allow to dehydrate (this may take several hours) in a warm, dry area. Juice the oranges and strain out excess pulp with a fine-mesh sieve. Reduce the juice slowly in a small pan until approximately 1/4 cup remains. Add the vinegar to the orange glaze. Keep warm.
Prepare the spice mix:
Add the cardamom, coriander and black pepper to a small metal or ceramic dish. Toast the spices in a 350 degree oven for 6 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Place spices into a spice grinder (coffee grinder works fine) and grind spices to a coarse powder.
In a medium mixing bowl combine the semolina, the Wondra flour, and the ground spices and mix together.
Prepare the watercress:
Pick the individual leaves off of each stalk. Place leaves in a small container in the refrigerator, discarding the stalks.
Cook the fish:
Heat a medium-size sauté pan on the stovetop and add 2 tablespoons of neutral oil. Spread out the semolina mix on a large plate. Lightly salt the fish and dredge the top side of each fillet with mixture and transfer fillets to a second plate. Saute skate, in batches of 2 or 3 fillets at a time, spice side down, in the hot oil. Allow each fillet to become golden brown before turning over. Skate is fairly thin so it will only take a few minutes for it to cook. Add more oil as needed for each batch and maintain a hot pan. Transfer the fish onto a large warm plate as it is cooked.
Assemble the plates:
Lay out four warm plates. Using a medium spoon, place a tablespoon of salsify on the far left side of the plate and drag the spoon through the salsify to the right side of the plate, creating a streak. Drizzle the orange glaze over the puree and around the plate in a decorative fashion. Place a tablespoon of watercress leaves, just off center, onto each plate. Divide the roasted salsify between the four plates, placing it over the top of the watercress. Carefully, place the fish over the top of the salsify, dividing it evenly between the plates. Sprinkle the orange “dust” around the perimeter of each plate and serve.Read More