Ingredient Challenge: Purple Potato, Strawberry Papaya and Sweet Mini Peppers
Here is a festive main entrée for a summertime dinner party that will dazzle your guests with its colorful first impression and diversity of flavors that pair perfectly with a chilled wine on a warm evening of patio dining. Chef Jason Tingley, Executive Chef at Dodger Stadium for Levy Restaurants, combines a distinctively flavorful fish, a few exotic seasonings and an array of supporting fresh produce du jour to his three challenge ingredients to create a dish that evokes visual delight even before the first delicious bite. In fact, the shopping list for this recipe was so varied and interesting that even the check stand clerk took notice and had to interrupt her robotic scanning to ask what I was cooking!
With four separate components to prepare and bring together, this is a dish for the home chef who enjoys a culinary journey with lots of slicing, dicing, measuring and mixing. Two of those parts entail a seeming cacophony of fascinating ingredients and Chef Jason’s sauce takes some focus to get the right consistency, so prepping this dish was almost as pleasurable as tasting the results. I said almost!
Chef Jason builds his dish on a foundation of creamy goodness with a simple Fork-Smashed Purple Potato. Besides the dazzling eye appeal, the purple tuber offers a rich, full-bodied flavor with a semi-dry, yet velvety consistency. The potato category, in general, has suffered undeserved negative dietary criticism in recent times. The fact is that potatoes are naturally low in calories, fat, cholesterol and sodium; yet very rich in vitamins and minerals. New research has connected the consumption of potatoes to the lowering and stabilization of blood pressure. In the case of purple potatoes, the tubers are also jam-packed with cancer-protecting antioxidants.
Being very high in fiber, potatoes can give one a feeling of fullness that aids in weight management. Though I must admit to coming back for seconds of this dish, in part, because of the flavor and texture of what is becoming one of my most favorite potato varieties to work with in the kitchen. Try frying slices of Baby Dutch Yellow® Potatoes and Purple Potatoes in a little olive oil with green onion, red bell pepper, salt and pepper. The plate looks stunning and tastes even better!
Chef Jason creates a tasty relish that plays the succulence of a ripe red papaya off of two opposite-flavored peppers. I am a real fan of any combination of fresh fruit and fresh peppers; there is something about this unlikely pair that just works well on the palate. Multi-colored Sweet Mini Peppers are just that – sweet and crunchy. Conversely, Red Fresno Chile peppers bring even a redder red along with just the right amount of pleasant heat without overpowering the rest of the flavors in this mix. Add diced hearts of palm, lime and agave syrup to complete a unique relish that matches well with the slightly sweet, nutty-tasting red snapper. I should also add that a few days after preparing the chef’s relish for this recipe, I used this same topping on grilled chicken with equal success.
I am always on the lookout for a good sauce. Chef Jason’s unique Coconut-Kieffer Lime Sauce is a keeper that, again, could be served over Jasmine rice or used as a stand-alone marinade for fish or chicken. In this dish, Chef Jason uses it to bind the components of this into a whole. Sauce making is an art. Allow enough time to slow down and enjoy the process! The recipe calls for a four-stage layering of the flavorful ingredients that are cooked into a mixture that is then strained for its essence. I expect to revisit this tasty sauce in any number of dishes, including that aforementioned grilled chicken!
I was unfamiliar with Grains of Paradise, but it was interesting to research and easy to locate on-line. Chef Jason suggests a mix of ground red and black peppercorns as a substitute. However, the 3-day wait for the real thing is well worth it. When ground, the dark round whole spice becomes a very aromatic, black and white powder; its flavor is peppery laced with tones of ginger and cardamom.
Another interesting ingredient to hunt down was the lime leaves. Kaffir leaves--dried, fresh and frozen--should be available in most well-stocked Asian food stores. If not, Jason suggests a few tablespoons of Yuzu juice, which I did find in that same local Asian market.
Some might be surprised that such an inventive dish was created by the Executive Chef of a venue best known, culinary-wise, for its famed Dodger Dog? That is, until one checks out Chef Jason’s newest menu change – a choice of five tailgate foods as topping options for the iconic dog, like potato salad or mac ‘n cheese. It should also be noted that Jason was gracious enough to participate in this feature while dealing with the first few busy opening weeks of the baseball season. Dare I say it…the chef has hit a home run with this Ingredient Challenge!
Sautéed New Zealand Pink Snapper With Smashed Purple Potatoes, Strawberry Papaya - Sweet Mini Pepper Relish and Coconut-Kaffir Lime Sauce
Smashed Purple Potatoes
6 ounce Purple Potatoes
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 teaspoon Salt Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Wash and dry potatoes, smother in oil, place on sheet pan and roast at 375° until tender, about 1 hour. Peel, crush with fork add butter, season with pepper.
12 ounce New Zealand Pink Snapper filet
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Butter Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 Tablespoon Butter
Slice filet into four 3 ounces pieces. Score the skin with a few slices. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Sauté, skin side down, in olive over medium-high heat. Cook the fish 90% with skin side down until skin is crisp and golden brown. Turn filet over, add butter and baste filet a few times until fish is finished cooking.
Strawberry Papaya and Veggie Sweet Mini Pepper Relish
5 ounces Strawberry Papaya, peeled, small diced
2 ounces Melissa’s Veggie Sweet Mini Peppers, tops removed, small diced
3 ounce Hearts of Palm, small diced
2 teaspoons Red Fresno Pepper, minced
2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
Zest of ½ a Lime
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 teaspoons Salt
1 Tablespoon Melissa’s Organic Blue Agave Syrup
1 Tablespoon Italian Parsley, chopped
Chives, finely diced, as garnish
Combine all ingredients thoroughly, adjust seasoning as needed.
Coconut- Kaffir Lime Sauce
2 ounces Shallots, minced
1 ounce Fresh Ginger, sliced
2 cloves Garlic, sliced
1 ounce Olive Oil
2 ounces Lime Juice
3 leaves Kieffer Lime (sub = 2 ounce Yuzu juice)
8 ounces Coconut Milk
3 ounces fresh Coconut Juice
2 teaspoons Cornstarch, slurry
2 teaspoons Salt
2 teaspoons Grains of Paradise – finely ground (sub = Black & Red Peppercorn mix)
Using small saucepan, sweat the shallots, ginger and garlic in olive oil. Then add Kaffir leaves (or Yuzu juice), lime juice, coconut milk and simmer for 20 minutes. Add salt, Grains of Paradise. Make slurry of fresh coconut juice and corn starch, add to pan. Bring sauce to a boil to thicken slightly. Remove from heat and strain. Adjust seasoning and serve immediately.
Beginning at the bottom of a deep-rimmed plate start with the fork-smashed purple potatoes; top with sautéed NZ pink snapper, followed by relish on top. The sauce may be spooned lightly over the top and around the bottom of the plate. Finish with a garnish of diced chives over the relish.