Nuke Them Fishy Fillets, Mediterranean-Style

Mediterranean countries are typically characterized by a high consumption of vegetables, olive oil and a moderate amount of protein. It’s thought to be a very healthy diet.

I’ve known people who take a dose of olive oil like taking a vitamin in the morning, and one lady swore to the restorative properties of a tablespoon of olive oil along with a tablespoon of vinegar with breakfast. Olive oil and vinegar make a splendid salad dressing. Maybe she would have been healthier had she added a handful of lettuce and tomato.

The oil is associated with the Mediterranean diet popularized since the 1950s in North America for its possible health benefits. The olive is one of the three core food plants in Mediterranean cuisine, the other two are wheat and grapes.

Here’s the rub. What’s a good olive oil? International Olive Council (IOC) is an intergovernmental organization of countries that produce olives or products derived from olives. The IOC officially governs 95 percent of international production and holds influence over the rest.

The United States is not a member of the IOC, however, in 2010 the U.S. Department of Agriculture adopted new voluntary olive oil grading standards that closely parallel those of the IOC.

The grades of oil can be classified as: Virgin, meaning the oil was produced by mechanical means only, no chemical treatment. Grades, in order down from the best of virgin olive oil include Extra Virgin, Virgin, Ordinary Virgin and Lampante Virgin.

TIP: The best time to buy olive oil is just as the new season hits the markets in early winter.

 

Microwaved Mediterranean-Style Crappie

6 (2-ounce) skinless slab fillets

1/2 pound green beans, trimmed

1/2 pint cherry tomatoes

1 ounce pitted Kalamata olives, thinly sliced (about 3 tablespoons)

2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped

2 tablespoons dry white wine

1 tablespoon olive oil

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

4 sprigs thyme

Special Equipment: An 8×8-inch microwave-proof baking dish

Toss green beans, tomatoes, olives, garlic, wine, oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap, poke a small hole in the center and microwave on high 3 minutes. Remove from microwave, uncover, and stir. Season fish on both sides with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, then arrange over green bean mixture in baking dish. Top each fillet with thyme sprig. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 2 1/2 minutes. Check if fish is opaque; if not, continue microwaving at 20-second intervals. Remove from microwave and let sit, covered, 2 minutes.

 

Mediterranean-Style Fish Sandwiches

In keeping with the healthy Mediterranean diet with fish, let’s whip up some fancy sandwiches topped with slaw.

 

Slaw:

4 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

4 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon hot sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 medium white onion, thinly sliced

1 large jalapeño, thinly sliced, seeds removed

1/2 medium poblano chili, thinly sliced with seeds removed

Combine lemon and lime juice, hot sauce, olive oil, oregano and salt in a large bowl. Add onion, jalapeño and poblano chili and toss to combine. Let marinate at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. Slaw can be made, strained and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead.

 

Tartar sauce:

6–7 cornichons, thinly sliced into 1/4 inch coins (pickled French gherkins)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley

3 teaspoons coarsely chopped capers

2 teaspoons tomato powder (optional)

1 1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

Large pinch chili powder

Large pinch kosher salt

Combine cornichons, mayonnaise, parsley, capers, tomato powder (optional), vinegar, chili powder and salt in a small bowl. Tartar sauce can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days ahead.

 

Fish:

8 skinless slab fillets, about (2-ounces each)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cornstarch

3 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons tomato powder (optional)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

3 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more

1 1/2 cups club soda

Canola oil (for frying)

4 sesame seed potato buns, split, toasted

8 slices ripe tomato

Whisk flour, cornstarch, oregano, onion powder, tomato powder (optional), garlic powder and 3 teaspoons salt in a large bowl. Add club soda and quickly whisk to incorporate. Pour canola oil into a large skillet to a depth of 1/4 inch. Heat oil to 350 F (medium-high) until hot. Dip fish into batter to coat, shake off excess, fry until golden crispy and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side. Work in batches if necessary and adjust the heat as needed to keep oil at 350°F. Drain on paper towels and season with salt.

 

The sandwiches:

Strain the slaw and discard liquid. Spread 1 tablespoon tartar sauce on top and bottom of buns, place tomato slices on bottom halves and top with fried fish and slaw and add top halves to buns.