Shrimp-Crusted Grouper with Spinach and Butter Beans

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On Ocean Drive in Miami Beach I had a very nice dish at A Fish Called Avalon, crab-crusted grouper with steamed spinach, giant white beans, roasted teardrop tomatoes, and a madeira beurre blanc. This is the only dish from my recent trip to Florida that I liked so much that I wanted to try and make something similar at home. The first problem is that grouper is not available in the Netherlands. And so I opted for the quite similar wolffish, but halibut would work too. The second problem was that although crab is usually available, I couldn’t find any after I had already purchased the other ingredients. And so I chose North Sea shrimp instead. (These tiny shrimp are cooked fresh in seawater as soon as they are caught and have more flavor than their larger cousins. You can substitute with other shrimp, raw or cooked doesn’t matter much.) The end result was very nice, although I certainly wouldn’t claim it to be a copy of Avalon’s dish. Also because I made some other changes as well. There will be a follow-up post in which I will use crab as well as madeira.

My long-time blogging buddy Paul of That Other Cooking Blog pointed out in his latest post that cooking order is important. This is one of those dishes in which that is the case, because you want to serve all the different components perfectly cooked and hot at the same time. This can be a challenge, especially with a sauce that can curdle easily like the sauce used in this recipe. It helps to use preheated plates, so at least the food doesn’t get cold while you are plating (and photographing) it. In this case it also helps to finish cooking the fish in the oven, but timing is important because leaving it in the oven for too long will result in dried out fish.

Ingredients

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For 2 servings

300 grams (.66 lb) grouper, wolffish or halibut fillets

100 grams (3.5 oz) shrimp meat

120 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine

1 tsp tomato paste

cayenne pepper

400 grams (.9 lb) spinach, preferably ‘wild’ spinach (i.e. the opposite of ‘baby’ spinach with tougher leaves suitable for stir-frying)

1 can of butter beans

10 cherry tomatoes

2 garlic cloves

1 red chilli, chopped

1 Tbsp fresh coriander leaves

1 tsp lime zest

salt

olive oil

flour for dusting

50 grams (3 1/2 Tbsp) butter

1 egg, separated

2 garlic cloves

Instructions

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Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Toss the cherry tomatoes with a bit of olive oil.

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Bake them at 180C/350F until their skins have softened (I could have baked them slightly shorter).

If your plates are oven proof, it is a good idea to preheat them in the oven with the tomatoes.

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In the meantime, combine the shrimp, coriander, lime zest, chilli, and 1 minced clove of garlic in the bowl of a blender.

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This is a good time to remember to add an egg white too 🙂

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Process until smooth and homogeneous. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt.

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Rinse the fish fillets with cold water and pat them dry with paper towels. Season them with salt on both sides.

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Dust the fish fillets with flour on both sides.

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Divide the shrimp mixture amongst the fish fillets and press a layer of shrimp crust on each one, on one side only.

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Heat olive oil in non-stick frying pan and add the fish with the shrimp side down. Cook over high heat for about 2 minutes.

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Carefully turn them over and cook for about 30 seconds.

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Carefully transfer the fish fillets to a baking dish, keeping the shrimp crust up.

(If your frying pan is oven proof you could also leave them in the pan, but in that case it is very important to remember the handle will be very hot when you take it out of the oven. I am talking from experience, and it is the reason why I use an oven dish even though my frying pan is in face oven proof…)

Finish cooking the fish in the oven for 5-10 minutes, depending on the thickness. (You probably should wait a while before putting the fish in the oven.)

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Warm up the butter beans. They should not boil.

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For the spinach, heat olive oil in a wok or very large frying pan and add the remaining clove of garlic. Cook the garlic until it is golden, then discard it.

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Add the spinach (or as much of it as will fit in your pan).

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Stir-fry the spinach until it has barely wilted.

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To make the sauce, combine 120 ml (1/2 cup) of dry white wine with a teaspoon of tomato paste in a saucepan.

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Stir and bring to a boil.

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Reduce to about half and allow to cool a bit.

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Add the egg yolk and butter, in pieces.

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Cook over low heat, stirring…

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…until the sauce has thickened. Season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste. You may wish to add a bit of sugar and/or lime juice as well.

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To serve, start with a layer of spinch.

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Spoon the sauce around the spinach.

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Arrange the beans on top of the sauce, and scatter a few on top of the spinach if you run out of space.

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Top with the fish and the cherry tomatoes. Serve and enjoy.

Wine pairing

At Avalon we had a great Chenin Blanc from California with this that was slightly oaked. A similar Chenin Blanc from South Africa would be great as well. Or many other full-bodied complex whites with good acidity as well as some roundness.

Flashback

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I don’t eat bison often, but is very nice, especially when cooked sous-vide and served with purple eggplant.

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17 thoughts on “Shrimp-Crusted Grouper with Spinach and Butter Beans

  1. thanks for the mention! Love your dish! Specially the tomato confit. Looks incredible even though you thought it could have required less cooking. I wonder how does the shrimp paste stick so well to the fish? I would imagine it would slide right off, wouldn’t it? Whatever you did worked and I would love to copy your recipe as soon as I find a good looking piece of grouper or halibut.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Stefan, as a Florida native living in Brussels I really enjoyed reading your latest post about your meal on Ocean Drive, and I hope that you will consider sharing with us your impressions and recommendations of some of the other restaurants you tried in the South Florida area. Thanks!

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    • Il Bolognese on Ocean Drive is also very good — the chef is a real Italian and the food is authentic.
      We liked Nine One Five in Key West, very tasty dishes and a great meal even though they serve red wine by the glass too warm.
      Azur in Key West was also pretty good.
      Island Grill on Islamorada was pretty generic.
      The sushi at Cheeca Lodge (Nikai Sushi) on Islamorada was good but not spectacular. Outstanding service though.
      The tacos at Huahua’s Tacqueria in Miami Beach are great, very fresh.
      The Italian food at Cara Mia Trattoria in Miami Beach was good, also with native Italians, but not as good as they think they are.

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  3. Isn’t that the way it always happens? I’m able to find the more rare ingredients but the one(s) that I should have no problem finding is nowhere to be found. You sure did recover nicely, Stefan, and your dish looks fantastic! Good tip, too, about warming the dishes. Although most often it’s my meal growing cold during the photo shoot, it’s good to have another plan when it’s more than dinner for one.

    Liked by 1 person

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