[Recipe] Lionfish Sliders with Scotch Bonnet Aioli & Pickled Vegetables

Lionfish Slider

We’re really digging the summer vibe this week.  Thoughts of sun-struck oceans and good times with good friends wash over Genuineland, from glassy Biscayne waterfront at Paraiso Bay to the royal blue expanse of Caribbean Sea through which genuine teammates are sailing at a clip as 150 Central Park’s summer menus go live on Oasis of the Seas.  To usher in the weekend, we’re kicking off our shoes, jumping in a hammock and cranking the ceiling fan on high to enjoy this spicy lionfish slider recipe from TGHG special ops chef Thomas Tennant.   These puppies have dog days written all over them and are inspired by a recent interview Michael did with Garden & Gun for a story on discovering something worth saving in “trash” fish.  What’s not to love about that angle?

Lionfish Sliders with scotch bonnet aioli, pickled vegetables, avocado, herbs

Makes 12 sliders

1 tablespoons minced garlic
1/3 cup​fresh lemon juice
1 scotch bonnet or habanero pepper, seeds removed
½ cup seasoning or shishito peppers, seeds removed
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups canola oil
1 ½ cups Pickled Vegetables (recipe follows)
12, 3-ounce lionfish filets, pin bones removed (fresh local snapper works well too!)
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper to taste
1 cup all purpose flour
Vegetable oil for frying
12 potato rolls
1 cup picked cilantro leaves
1 cup scallions cut on the bias
1 cup baby arugula, washed
3 limes cut into wedges
3 ripe avocados, sliced

Preheat a deep fat fryer to 350 degree Fahrenheit with vegetable oil.

In a food processor, combine the garlic, peppers and lemons juice and puree until smooth, scraping down the sizes of the bowl every few moments. Once pureed, add the egg yolks and salt then run the food processor until the egg yolks have been whipped enough to be well incorporated with the pepper mix. While the food processor is running, combine the two oils and slowly incorporate them into the processor in the thin stream. You want to have an emulsification, so do not go too fast. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Season the lionfish filets with salt and peppers, then dredge in the flour. Fry until golden brown and cooked through. Place on to paper towels to soak any excess oil and season with salt.

To assemble, slice the potato rolls in half and dry toast the cut side on a griddle. Liberally spread the aioli on both cut sides of the bread. In a small mixing bowl, combine the cilantro leaves, scallions and arugula and dress with a strong squeeze of fresh lime juice. Assemble each slider by placing the fried filets on the bottom half of the sauced rolls. Then thinly slice the avocado and place on the lionfish. Top with pickled vegetables and cilantro/arugula mix. Place the top half of the roll on top and secure with a sandwich pick.

Quick Pickled Vegetables

Makes about 2 cups

2 cups unseasoned rice vinegar
½ cup sugar
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 thyme sprig
Suggested vegetables:
1 small red onion sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds and separated into individual rings
2 bell peppers, seeded and julienned
1 carrots, julienned

Combine the vinegar, 1 cup water, sugar, bay leaves, and mustard seeds in a medium nonreactive pot. Slowly bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Put the vegetables in a heatproof nonreactive container and pour the hot liquid on top and toss to evenly coat; the vegetables should be completely submerged in the liquid. Cover and cool to room temperature. Chill before serving. The pickled red vegetables keep for months stored covered in the refrigerator. Be sure to keep them completely submerged in the liquid.

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