The popularity of cuisines come and go like the seasons of the year, at least that is what I’m told. Truthfully, I like what I like. And I eat what I like until I don’t like it anymore.
When my husband and I moved down to Miami Beach from Connecticut, I was not very well versed in Mediterranean food. I’ve had a bit of it during my time living up north, but it was never something I actively sought after.
Cleo changed that for me. The Mediterranean restaurant on 18th and Collins here in Miami Beach has been a place I make sure to take everyone I know to at least once. And, if they live here, it usually isn’t only once.
In addition to being one of my favorite restaurants to dine at, Cleo has been a huge inspiration to me in my own kitchen. Until I came across this establishment, cooking Mediterranean food was never truly something I yearned to do. Now, so much of what I cook from day to day is inspired by the unique flavors and tapas-style presentation Cleo has mastered and consistently displays every day.
With a newfound love for Mediterranean food hovering ever-so-close, the very first dish that came to mind when I was introduced to Sentiments was this dish here.
Mediterranean Red Snapper with Cauliflower Puree and Sentiments is a versatile dish that can act as both a sharable appetizer as well as a full entrée. The spices used both on the fish as well as in the puree bring life to an already light an airy dish. And the Sentiments provide a refreshing burst of flavor that catapults this dish to uncharted heights.
Reminiscent of salmon roe atop a piece of fresh sushi, the Sentiments prove that regardless of what kind of cuisine they play a part in, they only make the dish better.
Mediterranean Red Snapper with
Cauliflower Puree and Sentiments
For the fish rub:
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp harissa
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp savory
1/4 tsp sumac
Mix spices in a small bowl.
For the fish:
1 red snapper filet (3/4 lb), cut into 4 pieces
2 tsp spice rub
Slice each piece of fish at a diagonal, creating an incision. Make sure not to cut completely through the fish.
Coat each side of the filet with the spice rub. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and allow the fish to marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
For the cauliflower puree:
1/4 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1/4 cup diced sweet onion
1 tb olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp harissa
1/4 tsp sumac
1 1/2 tb fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup vegetable stock plus extra
1/4 cup of greek yogurt or sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté the onion over medium heat in the olive oil for 3-5 minutes until slightly caramelized. Add the cauliflower, garlic, spices, fresh herbs and vegetable stock along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Simmer with a lid on for 10 minutes. Replenish the vegetable stock if you notice it is evaporating too quickly.
After 10 minutes, remove the lid and cook the cauliflower for another 5 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated. Transfer the cauliflower mixture into a food processor. Add the greek yogurt (or sour cream) and blend until smooth. Return the pureed cauliflower to a clean pan and keep warm on the stove.
For cooking the fish:
The seasoned fish
1 tb olive oil
Coat the bottom of a pan large enough to fit the pieces of fish with the olive oil and place the pan over medium-high heat. Pat the fish gently with a paper towel to sop up any moisture. Gently lay the pieces of fish in the pan, skin-side down once the pan is hot and the oil has started to smoke slightly.
Cook the fish for about 2 minutes. Turn the fish over and cook for another minute or until the fish is cooked all the way through.
Bringing it all together:
Fresh parsley for garnish
Crushed red pepper flakes for garnish and heat
Dollop an equal amount of cauliflower puree on four plates. Gently lay a piece of fish on the puree. Spoon a small amount of Sentiments into the incision of each piece of fish. Garnish with the parsley and red pepper flakes and serve while warm.
While only 1 red snapper filet is used for this recipe, there is quite a bit of flexibility when it comes to both the kind of fish and the quantity you can use to make this special dish.
- No red snapper available? Pretty much any fish will work. Sea bass would be the best substitute as well as any other fish you can find with a skin that you can crisp during the cooking process. Follow all of the same preparation steps for the fish. Simply adjust the cooking times for the fish based on the thickness of the filet you use. The end result will be just as elegant and delicious!
- Turn this appetizer-sized portion into a delectable entrée. Simply smear the cauliflower puree across a plate. And instead of cutting the fish filet into four pieces, keep it whole. Make 3 diagonal incisions across the filet and fill each with the Sentiments once the filet is cooked. Multiply the fish and cauliflower recipes according to how many full entrées you intend to make. As for the rub, the current recipe yields enough for 2 full filets. So, if you intend on turning this dish into 4 full entrées, simply double the recipe for the rub and you will have more than enough spice to go around.