Pan-roasted Red Snapper with Lemongrass-Shallot Sauce and Peas—the Healthy Way

 

Here’s a perfect—and healthy—weeknight dinner. The sauce will take about 20 minutes (so long as you are a good chopper). You’ll need 5 to 8 minutes to pan-roast the fish. In parallel you’ll anglaise the peas. So in under 30 minutes you’ll be sitting at the dinner table.

The sauce is what makes this meal a true winner. The lemongrass adds a wonderful perfume, nicely balanced by the acidity of the wine and sour cream. The original recipe called for some heavy cream, but at the last minute I substituted the cream with non-fat sour cream and the results worked beautifully. The resulting reduced calorie count puts this dinner in the healthy category (although the Speedo test is still far off). Here is want you need to make snapper for two:

3 to 4 oz of red snapper fillet per person (I bought a single big fillet)
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

Sauce:
1 clove of garlic, finely diced (about a tablespoon)
2 stems of lemon grass, core finely diced (about a tablespoon)
1 small shallot, finely diced (about two tablespoons)
2 tablespoons of butter
1/3 cup of non-fat sour cream
1/2 cup clam juice
2/3 cup of dry wine (I love Gruener Veltiner for this)

1.5 to 2 cups of frozen peas
5 stems of mint, leaves cut into a chiffonade (roll like a cigar and then cut in thin strips)
Salt and pepper

Boil the peas in a salted pot of water for 3 minutes. Cool in ice water to set the green color; drain in collander.

For the sauce: in the butter and at medium heat, sauté the diced garlic, lemon grass, and shallots, being careful not to brown them. This should only take a few minutes. Add the wine and the clam juice and, at high heat, reduce until you have about 1/3 cup of liquid. Puree this in a blender with the non-fat sour cream and then return to the cleanly-wiped sauce pan. Salt and pepper to taste and keep warm.

Pan-sear the seasoned red snapper fillets in a hot pan with the grapeseed oil. I really like to sauté fish with this oil, because it is tasteless and has a high smoke point. This means you’ll be tasting the nicely browned delicious fish and not burned oil.

While sautéing the fish, I reheat the peas with a tiny bit of butter.

Assemble your plates using the sliced mint leaves. See pictures above for a suggested presentation.

Enjoy your light and healthy spring dinner!

p.s. The February 2014 Food and Wine featured the fat- and calorie-rich version of this recipe which also looks really good. And hey, Speedo season’s still a long way off.

Pea Soup with Fresh Mint

Pea Soup with Mint Ingredients for Pea Soup with Fresh Mintimageimageimage

This soup is a staple in our home. Mint and peas are classic companions and this soup is easy to cook. You need only three ingredients: Leeks, peas (I always use frozen ones), and a bundle of fresh mint. And I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure it’s good for you—healthy and light with only a small amount of butter. This one offers a pleasingly big burst of flavor.

Sometimes for a cocktail party I will serve the soup in cups (see pictures below). This offers my guests a welcomed break from the very expected snacks (still not a doctor here, but I believe these may not be as good for you) and crudité.

Pea Soup with Fresh Mint
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6 to 8
Ingredients
  • 2 standard packages of frozen petit peas
  • 3 leeks, thoroughly cleaned and chopped
  • 1 bunch of mint
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Over medium heat melt the butter and sauté the chopped leeks until soft, right before they start to brown. Medium heat works much better than high heat, as this allows the leeks to soften slowly and develop their sugars. This step should take about 5 to 7 minutes. Season as you go with salt and pepper.
  2. Now add a quart of water and bring to a boil. Cook at a lazy bubble for 15 to 20 minutes. (This soup actually tastes better when cooked with water instead of adding chicken or vegetable stock. You will better taste the intense pea and mint flavors—a very clean flavor profile.)
  3. Now turn the heat to high and dump the peas into the pot. The frozen peas will drop the temperature in the pot dramatically. On high head, bring the soup to a boil as fast as possible. Once it’s boiling, cook for 3 to 4 minutes, and continue to season. Preserve the appealing bright green color of the soup by not overcooking. You may want to add a little more water if the soup feels too thick.
  4. The whole thing now goes into the blender. Drop a handful of mint leaves into the mix. Carefully blend until super smooth, then return to the cleaned pot. Bring to a boil one more time. This step will cook the starch out of the pulverized peas, bonding all the flavors in this super creamy delight together in the process. And make sure you notice: there’s not a single drop of cream responsible for this soup’s super creaminess.

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My favorite way to garnish the soup is with a chiffonade of mint leaves. Simply roll up a bunch of mint leaves like a cigar and slice it into very thin strips. But as you can see, this soup looks delicious even without any garnish.

You can find a similar recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, The French Culinary Institute’s Salute to Health Cooking.

Winter Cocktail Party with Friends

Cocktail Party: Last night I hosted a group of friends for cocktails, of course we had to prepare some snacks.  We ended up having a very good time drinking (see the sad left over above..) and eating away the Chicken Liver Pate, Soup of fresh peas with mint, spiced pecan nuts, and Parmesan Crisp with a Goat Cheese Mousse. More detail on each of the appetizers in future posts.

Hope this gives you ideas for the big Sunday Party…

From garden to plate in a few moments: its pea time. With snow peas at their peak, a touch of butter and a couple of minutes in the sauté pan will get the job done. Baby turnips and mint worked nicely together with my peas.

http://mynewyorkkitchen.com/from-garden-to-plate-in-a-few-moments-its-pea/