Norwegian rye breaded pollock & creamy cauliflower

This super simple, yet elegant dish plays on different textures, with crispy rye breading, juicy fish and creamy cauliflower as well as the peppery flavor pairing between cauliflower, field lettuce, and a subtle hint of mustard.

Ingredients

  • 4x 180 g skinless pollock fillets
  • Whole grain rye flour*
  • Egg wash from 1 medium egg
  • 2 cauliflower
  • 200 ml whipping cream
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • a few handfuls field lettuce**
  • fine sea salt

*I use a 50/50 mix of fine and coarse whole grain rye flour, called “sammalt rug” in Norwegian. I use two types simply because I think the finely milled is too fine for this dish, and the coarsely ground is, well, too coarse.

**If you can’t find field lettuce, arugula/rocket salad have some of the same peppery notes, but it’s won’t be quite the same.

Method

Start by sprinkling fine sea salt on your fillets, and set aside on covered on a plate in your fridge. This will firm up the fish, and also make it juicier.

Next, put the lettuce in ice water (or just REALLY cold water). This will both rinse the lettuce and crisp it up.

Both steps can be done an hour ahead if that suits your schedule better.

Next, put a sauté or frying pan on medium heat. Take your cauliflower, break off the biggest leaves by hand, then use a small pairing knife and run it around the stem of the cauliflower to take off the florets. Then take off its top with the same knife. If some of the florets are really big, you may want to split them in half; it’s a good idea to keep all the florets about the same size to make sure they cook evenly.

Add a bit of neutral oil to the hot pan, then the cauliflower, and sauté until just golden brown. Toss or stir once in a while to ensure even browning. When golden brown, add the cream, mustard, and a good pinch fine sea salt and let simmer down to a creamy sauce.

Meanwhile, as the cauliflower is sautéing to get some colour, put a cast iron pan (or carbon steel or stainless steel) on medium high heat.

Continue with preparing the egg wash and rye flour: grab two plates, sprinkle one of them with the flour, and tip the egg wash onto the other. Make sure the plates are evenly coated, as this will ensure an even coating on the fish.

Adding the cream to the cauliflower is your cue to pat dry the fillets, dredge them first (the side where the skin was down) in the flour, then into the egg wash, then back in the rye again. Drizzle a thin, yet fully covering layer of neutral oil into your frying pan, and place the fish onto your pan, breaded side down.

Gently flip the fish with a spatula once the breading is nice and golden brown. Turn off the pan when there’s just a tiny bit of translucent meat in the very center of the fish and let it rest until it’s just opaque. Transfer to a wooden cutting board to rest for a few minutes.

Check your cauliflower. If the cream has thickened to a nice and creamy, but not thick and heavy sauce, season with fine sea salt to taste. Give it a few more minutes at higher heat if it needs to thicken some more. If the fish isn’t quite ready yet, turn off the heat for the cauliflower and put a lid on it.

Right before serving, toss out the ice water for the lettuce, spin the field lettuce in a salad spinner (or gently dry with a towel if you don’t have a salad spinner)

Plate in a wide bowl with the cauliflower first, then the lettuce. Lift the fish with a spatula and place on top of the mound of cauliflower and lettuce.

Enjoy!

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