Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Florida Dinner Party - Part I

Dinner parties can be tricky.

I have two ways I normally go when planning a dinner party: A small sit-down dinner or a larger amount of guests and a buffet. In the last year, I've done the latter far more than a small sit-down dinner. So I thought I would change that and have some friends over - another couple who are from Florida. I always try to get a theme in my head of what I want to serve.  It's not necessary but it always organizes the details in my head better. In this case, the guests determined the theme: Florida. More specifically I wanted to showcase the flavors of South Florida. This in itself is a tricky statement. South Florida is influenced from so many cultures from Cuban to the Caribbean.  Take these flavors and pair it with great seafood and it's a great meal.

So as I did some research I came to an amazing recipe: Cod with Coconut, Lime, Lemongrass and Curry Broth on Epicurious.com.  I loved the idea and decided to use it. The other great thing, is that I knew I could make the broth (which held all of the wonderful flavors) ahead of time and then all I had to do was cook the fish right before we ate. Its these little details that help a host stay sane and keep everything on track. No one wants a host that's stuck in the kitchen.

Later after looking at the recipe countless times, I realized in small type that it was Eric Ripert's recipe...

No pressure.

Thankfully we had an amazing meal and everything turned out fine. The flavors of curry, lemongrass, coconut milk and lime combined to create a perfect dish. It made me wish I was back in Florida. Then again that was the point.

The Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, thinly sliced
  • 1-inch knob ginger, thinly sliced
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 tablespoon Madras curry
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup fresh coconut milk, or canned
  • 4 cilantro sprigs
  • Fine sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground white pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
The Cod: 
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 7-ounce cod fillets, 1 1/2-inches thick
  • Fine sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground white pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400°F.
To make the broth, melt the butter in a small sauté pan or wok over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, kaffir lime leaves and curry and sweat until tender and with no color, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat simmer for 15 minutes. Add the coconut milk and cilantro, and simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Strain through a fine chinois and set aside. 

Divide the 2 tablespoons of canola oil between the skillets. Place over high heat until oil is just smoking. Season the cod on both sides with salt and pepper. Put 2 pieces of cod in each skillet and sauté until golden brown and crusted on the bottom, about 2 1/2 minutes. Turn and sear on the other side for 30 seconds. Put the pans in the oven and roast until a metal skewer can be easily inserted into the fish and, when left in the fish for 5 seconds, feels hot when touched to your lip, about 6 to 7 minutes.

Jicama Papaya Salad:
1 Jicama
1 Papaya

Use a mandoline or your knife to slice both into matchsticks.  When plating put a handful of the salad underneath the fish and ladle the broth over both.

*as in above photo - Cod could be substituted for sea bass.


  1. On a cold rainy New England day, I'd give anything to be at this Florida dinner party!

  2. I love the combo of flavors! Beautiful colors too!

  3. Great sauce, very different - great taste I bet

  4. I'm in Florida now and can say yes, this would be a great dinner!

  5. I think Eric Ripert would've been proud of you, this dish looks heavenly!

  6. I made this recipe last year, with a few substitutions for the hard-to-obtain ingredients. We thought it was great, but I didn't even realize it was an Eric Ripert recipe at the time. Whoops!


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