If you like to eat fish for Good Friday, this is an easy, low-touch recipe that’s also delicious. The fish is simply pan-fried and placed on a salad bed of pumpkin, Persian feta, chickpeas and dried cranberries to add a burst of tart sweetness.
The salad is coated in a sumac-spiked dressing of peppery garlic, zesty lemon and sweet pomegranate molasses. If you aren’t familiar with sumac, it’s a delightful bright-red spice that is made from dried sumac berries, which are also tart. The dressing is balanced and comes together to add an invigorating burst.
This is a Francois Poulard dish. He recently took over as executive chef at Sydney’s Manly Wharf Hotel, which recently underwent a $5 million renovation.
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Poulard has worked in some respected kitchens. He was the former head chef of refined Sydney long-luncher Chiswick, North Bondi Fish and Aria. The French-born chef also did stints in Europe before he moved to Australia.
“I like this dish because it is clean, easy and quick to make, but far from boring,” says Poulard. “It also has a little Middle Eastern twist, which is one of my favourite cuisines and a big part of our Mediterranean journey at The Tropic [the Wharf hotel’s restaurant].
“To cook the fish, you can also use a fish weight. This will prevent the fillet from curling and ensure the fillet cooks evenly until perfectly golden brown.”
If you don’t have one you can use a spatula – just add a little pressure when you do.
Pan-fried snapper, spiced pumpkin salad and feta
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
200g butternut pumpkin (skin on)
70g baby kale
100g cooked chickpeas
40g dried cranberries
80g Persian feta
50g pomegranate molasses
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
200ml grapeseed oil
1 lemon (zest and juice)
2 snapper fillets (200g each)
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Dice the butternut pumpkin into 2-centimetre cubes and toss them in a bowl with grapeseed oil, salt and pepper. Line a baking tray with baking paper and tumble the pumpkin pieces onto it in a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside to cool down.
In a bowl, combine the sumac, pomegranate molasses, garlic, grapeseed oil, lemon zest and juice, then whisk.
Season the snapper with a little salt and pepper. Place a large non-stick pan over medium heat then add the 2 tbsp of grapeseed oil. Lay the fish fillets in the pan, skin side down. Press each fillet down with a fish weight or spatula to stop it from curling. Then let the fish cook for 3–4 minutes undisturbed, until you can see the flesh has cooked two-thirds of the way up and the skin is crisp and brown.
In the meantime, arrange pumpkin, baby kale, chickpeas, dried cranberries and feta on a serving platter. Drizzle generously with the sumac dressing.
Turn the fish over and cook for a further 1 minute. Remove from the heat and place the snapper on top of the salad. Serve immediately with wedges of lemon.
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