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12 April 2009

Spiced Crumbed Flathead with Cauliflower Puree, Salsa Verde and Sauteed Spinach

When Mark and I went to a seafood cooking class about a year ago, one of the dishes involved pureed cauliflower - and it was amazing. Because I wanted to create a really special fish dish for Renee and Todd, I decided to try out the pureed cauliflower, and even if I do say so myself, it was fantastic.

With the fish, because the pureed cauliflower is so creamy, I thought that crispy, crumbed fish would be an interesting contrast. And I am really happy with how that turned out also. I mixed a few spices with the crumbs to contrast with the sweetness of the cauliflower. The flathead crumbed and cooked really well.

I made the cauliflower puree a few hours in advance. To keep it warm, I placed the puree in a glass bowl and placed the bowl in a large saucepan with a few inches of water in the bottom. I placed the whole lot over a low heat and the steam kept the puree hot as well as moist.

Just before serving, I preheated the oven to about 140 degrees. After frying the fish, I placed it in the oven to keep it warm while I sauteed the spinach and blanched the beans I served the dish with.

So, the salsa verde is not really salsa verde, but it is delicious all the same. Dill is not ordinarilly used in salsa verde, but I really like the combination. The recipe makes a large quantity of salsa verde. I used the rest on Easter Saturday (lamb recipe to be posted shortly).

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon lemon myrtle
1 teaspoon wattleseed
1 teaspoon ground akudjura (bush tomato)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups breadcrumbs
1/2 cup plain flour
3 eggs lightly whisked
700-800g flathead fillets
1 1/2 heads of cauliflower cut into florets
600ml thickened cream
1 litre milk
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch dill
1 bunch mint
2 tablespoons capers
45g tin anchovies
2 cloves garlic
2-3 teaspoons dijon mustard (to taste)
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 - 3/4 cup olive oil
2-3 tablespoons butter (extra)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil (extra)
1-2 tablespoons butter (extra for spinach)
150g baby spinach
Green beans to serve


First, crumb the fish. Place the coriander seeds, lemon myrtle, wattleseed and akudjura in a mortar and pestle and grind well. Place the egg, plain flour and breadcrumbs in separate bowls. Mix the spices with the breadcrumbs.

Coat the fish in the flour, shaking off any excess. Then dip the fish in the egg and coat well with breadcrumbs, pressing down firmly to ensure the breadcrumbs stick. Place the crumbed fish in the fridge until ready to cook.

To make the cauliflower puree, combine the milk, 450ml of the cream and cauliflower in a large saucepan. The cauliflower needs to be completely covered, so add a little extra milk if necessary. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft. Drain and place the cauliflower in a food processor. Heat the remaining cream in a small saucepan until hot. Puree the cauliflower in the food processor. Add the heated cream, butter and salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm until ready to serve.

So, now we'll prepare the salse verde. Place all ingredients, except the olive oil in a food processor. Process until well combined. Slowly add the olive oil until the desired consistency is reached. Store in the fridge, but remove from the fridge at least an hour before serving to bring it back to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 140 degrees. When you are ready to eat, place the extra butter and oil in a fry pan and melt over medium heat. Once hot, fry the fish on each side until crisp. If the pan becomes dry, add a little extra butter or oil. Place fish in the oven to keep warm.

Wipe clean the fry pan and melt extra butter. Add the spinach and saute until wilted (this only takes a few minutes).

Serve fish with the pureed cauliflower and sauteed spinach. Seave some blanches greens (such as green beans) on the side.

Tomato and Spinach Breakfast

If I feel like something really healthy for breakfast, I make this dish. I always feel like I have started the day well when I eat this with a big glass or orange juice and a cup of tea.

Okay, garlic for breakfast is not for everyone - the garlic is optional of course, but it does really enhance the flavour. You could also add white beans or cannellini beans for an extra dimension. I also like to serve it with grilled ham or bacon.

Ingredients (Serves 1)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic crushed
100 - 125g cherry tomatoes halves
A few handfuls baby spinach
Buttered toast to serve


Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant, but not browned. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for a few minutes until soft (you can cover the pan to speed up the process). After a few minutes, add the baby spinach and cook for a minute or so until the spinach is wilted.

Serve immediately with buttered toast.