Wolffish is one of my favorite types of white fish, as it has a better flavor and texture than cod and its relatives. For this recipe you could also use another white fish that doesn’t flake easily (as flaky fish fillets would probably fall apart when you try to serve them this way). This is an original dish that I came up with, but its flavors are definitely inspired by the Italian cuisine. Anchovies is what combines the two elements of this dish: the bell peppers are braised with anchovies, and anchovies are also used to flavor the breadcrumbs used for breading the wolffish. You could think of this as a gourmet version of classic fish fingers. To allow the fish to shine, I breaded the fish fillets only on side. If the fish were to be breaded on all sides, the breading would overpower the fish. For additional crunch I used large dried breadcrumbs, which I made by allowing white bread to dry, grinding it in the food processor, and then using first a coarse sieve and then a fine sieve to end up with coarse breadcrumbs (you can reserve the fine breadcrumbs for another use, and put the larger pieces that don’t fall through the coarse sieve back in the food processor to grind them some more).
The combination of tender juicy fish with crunchy flavorful breading and the tender braised bell peppers works very well. This dish is both elegant and full of flavor, and worthy of a restaurant. I’ve cooked the fish sous-vide, but you could also finish cooking it in the oven instead. Here’s what I did…
For 6 servings
6 pieces of skinned wolffish fillet, about 150 grams (.33 lb) each, 900 grams (2 lbs) total
2 red bell peppers
2 yellow bell peppers
2 green bell peppers
6 anchovy fillets
3 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp salted capers, rinsed and dried
1/2 cup (120 ml) large dried breadcrumbs
1 egg white, lightly beaten
extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
Combine 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar in a small bowl, and stir until well mixed.
If you want to be very precise about curing the fish and have very accurate scales, first weigh the fish and then calculate 1.4% of that weight for the salt and 0.6% for the sugar.
Rub the curing mix on all sides of the fish fillets.
Vacuum seal and refrigerate for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, rinse the fish fillets under cold running water to remove the curing mix.
Pat the fish dry with paper towels and vacuum seal individually (if cooking the fish sous-vide).
Mince 2 anchovy fillets, 1 Tbsp of capers, and 1 garlic clove until very fine.
Sauté 1/2 cup (120 ml) of large dry breadcrumbs in olive oil together with the anchovy-caper-garlic mixture until the breadcrumbs are golden, then turn off the heat.
Clean 2 red, 2 yellow, and 2 green bell peppers and cut them into 3 cm (1 inch) chunks.
Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a frying pan. Add 2 garlic cloves, cut into halves.
Add the bell peppers.
Stir over high heat until the bell peppers start to color, then lower the heat.
Add 4 minced anchovy fillets and allow them to melt.
Stir to incorporate.
Cook the bell peppers over low heat, stirring regularly, for about 30 minutes.
When they are tender, taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and remove the garlic.
Cook the fish sous-vide for 20 minutes at 52C/126F (skip this step if cooking the fish in the oven).
Pat the fish dry with paper towels.
Dip each fillet first in flour (shaking of excess), then in egg white, and then in the sautéed breadcrumbs.
Do this only on one side, and arrange the fillets on a plate or a piece of kitchen paper on the other side (so the breaded side is on top).
Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the fish fillets with the breaded side down, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
Turn the fish over. Cook for 1 minute if the fish was cooked sous-vide. If not, finish cooking the fish in the oven at 180C/350F until the core reaches a temperature of 52C/126F. It is easiest to use an oven-proof non-stick frying pan, and simply put the entire pan with the fish in the oven, and to insert an instant-read thermometer with the probe in the core (the center of the thickest part) of one of the fillets.
Serve the fish with the peppers on preheated plates.
We enjoyed this with a nice bottle of Condrieu, the best area for Viognier in the world in the northern Rhone area. Many other complex whites with moderate to low acidity would work, too.