What’s in the Walk In? Great White Winter Predators.

Golden Tilefish at Trigger Seafood.

Golden Tilefish resting pretty at George Figueroa’s Trigger Seafood.

“Striped bass, trout, and stuff like that. Scallops… That’s the ocean I come from,” Fi’lia chef de cuisine Tim Piazza begins.  “When I was working at (Michael’s) Genuine, I began figuring out what South Florida has to offer as far as local sustainable fish. Golden tilefish is one we really look forward to.”

Coming from New York, Tim had to learn the seasons, the ingredients, all over again, and same goes for the sea as it does for land.  With grouper out until summer, the arrival of swimmers at the top of the food chain is the perfect trigger for the kitchen to revisit fish dishes on the menu.  Changing the set up is always on the table, but so is a switch more subtle yet maybe even more significant. Tim turned up the volume on one of my favorite dishes simply swapping snapper for golden tile.

“You get something a lot cleaner, with a little more firmness and structure to the fish. Which means a higher fat content, so the bite is a little more luxurious,” he explains. “I had to wrap my head around it but it’s just a constant thing and part of the process for our kitchen, menu development. It’s just about getting smarter as a cook down here. You flip the script like 100%.”

Talk to fishmonger George Figueroa of Trigger Seafood, Michael’s good friend and dispatch of what’s running since Genuine’s early days, and he’ll yarn a tail as only his dying breed can, one that makes the fish leap from the plate with context essential to the understanding – and therefore ultimate enjoyment – of the ingredient.

“Right now the season opened on the golden tile and the long liners are out off Florida’s north Atlantic coast, even at Pulley’s Ridge about 140 to 160 miles northwest of Key West in the Gulf,” he explains. “It’s where these guys like to be, deep in the trenches. That’s why they have this angled head, to bury in the sand.”

#whatsinthewalkin

#whatsinthewalkin

NOAA’s commercial season began on as appropriate day as any, January 1. Midnight on New Year’s Day the boats George works with went out from Port Canaveral. We received our first delivery last week. Deep sea fisherman like these are the real deal. They’re allowed a 4-5,000 pound haul per boat trip, each lasting about eight, sometimes 10 days. This is serious fishing, with in some cases five miles of hooks gleaning specimens of 20 to even 60 pounds from downwards of 1,000 feet. In keeping with regulation, the boats must be at least 200 miles from nearest land mass. This is a better fishery than close to shore, and where you can find the queens (snapper,) snowy groupers, wreckfish… basically all the stuff that keeps things interesting and cooks on their toes amidst schools of mutton, yellowtail and mangrove snappers. People will be fishing golden tile hook and line for the rest of the year, after the long liners finish their allotment.

Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink chef de cuisine Saul Ramos will receive 200 pounds this afternoon from Wild Ocean Seafood and, not unlike a whole pig, he’ll work through every inch, using the bones for a fish fume with lemongrass, the cheek on the grill with scallion, ginger and lemon, the fillet into the wood oven or pan seared. The scraps will go into ceviche at the raw bar, and the collar will be served crispy on the outside with fatty flakes of juicy white flesh in the nooks.

“These big fish are more fun. Carrying it, you feel the weight, and from the moment the knife cuts into the flesh,” he says. “One of the things I love about golden tile is that it has a subtle flavor of lobster and crab.  Cooked perfectly, you really get a nice flavor of shellfish.”

Saul explains that when breaking down these big guys, you need to know where to enter and be precise, following the cuts to get the most yield.  He uses three knives — a fillet knife, which is more fragile and has two different blades for a cleaner cut.  Then there’s the chef’s knife to get at the bones. A pairing knife goes around tighter places like the neck.

Chef Saul and Sous Randy showing off their mutton snappers from George a couple days ago.

Sous Randy (left) and Chef Saul (right) showing off their mutton snappers from George a couple days ago. Today we will trade peach for speckled golden.

Because of the challenges of this fishery, especially how long the fish are out of the water compared to shallow dayboat catch, George is careful who he works with despite what would seem to be a task only for the most seasoned, simpatico professionals.

Size and quality are top priority. First, you’ll want to put the fish into a chill brine, which is basically what it sounds like – a slushy mix of salt water and ice which really drops the temperature quick – and then on ice. And you must bring to shore as quickly as possible, not camp out for more yield when it compromises the catch.

“You have to stick to your guns, when some customers want fish that just isn’t available from sources you trust,” he reflects. “That’s how my business started. I can only work on small scale, because you’ll get old fish, and it’s going to hurt. I don’t want to get any bigger. You have to be willing to say it’s not available. Everyone wants the fish, but there’s only so much and we can’t just be like everyone else. When grouper season closed it was like disbelief. It’s like take it off your damn menu already! Take what’s available, the best product. Be flexible.”

#thisisMGFD: Short Rib Croquettes | Roasted Vegetable Salad | Pan Roasted Snapper

 

As our new menu settles in, we’ll be highlighting dishes on the blog a few at a time as we taste through them all, with menu descriptions provided by the chefs so you can get to know them, too.  Here are some highlights from last night’s first Dinner service:

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Short Rib Croquettes with smoked paprika aioli — These tasty three-bite nuggets are made with an ingredient common to the Miami table: yucca.  I like to think of this as a take on what one might find at Palacio de Los Jugos (a known palace of inspiration for Chef!) where they’re sprinkled with pork bits.  Here, the tuber is boiled and mixed into a batter with flour and egg, filled and balled with slow cooked short rib and all the good flavor-making stuff — mirepoix, white wine, tomato, orange, cumin and oregano — fried until brown and crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and nestled in a pool of smoked paprika aioli.  This sauce is a keeper, and you can whisk it up with egg yolk, lemon juice, and a slow steady stream of olive oil.  The creamy condiment is transformed into a vivid shade of orange with the intoxicating addition of smoked paprika.

img_0146Roasted Vegetables with seeds & grains, tahini, cilantro — So not all of us may be in agreement that this is a salad, but we are definitely on the same page that it’s a flavor-packed winner. Share it with a friend as a starter or make a satisfying meal of a bowl including red quinoa, bulgar wheat, wild rice, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, and toasted, spiced pumpkin seeds tossed with roasted heirloom carrots, cauliflower and petals of caramelized onions.  Sitting atop a cushion of tahini and topped with fresh picked cilantro, this one’s gonna call you back.

Pan Roasted Snapper with clams, bacon, green onion, green sauce  Umami bursts from the plate here in perfect balance. A 6oz filet of snapper (or what’s light and flakey and running locally, like tilefish perhaps) is pan roasted skin side down until crispy.  That’s important for contrast.  Braised in the pan with butter, thyme and garlic, it’s served on a bed of grilled scallions and a pool of green sauce.  It’s just heaven, combining clam juice, garlic, thyme, white wine, spinach, parsley, tarragon, and basil all puréed and mounted with butter.  Good lord is it lick-your-plate-clean good.  Adding crisp chunks of house smoked bacon and a few steamed clams in their shell to guild the lily, this is sure to be a keeper.

Follow #thisisMGFD on Instagram as we continue to tour the news.

Balancing Act: Get to Know Harry’s New Daily Entrée Specials

MG_new DDE

Harry’s Pizzeria fans, gather round!  Chef de cuisine Daniel Ramirez has three new Daily Entrée setups to share effective TODAY!  Besides our favorite Harry’s snacks, salads, and pizzas, these wholesome plates have shone bright in their own section of the menu since they were introduced a few summers ago for dinner.  Now available all day long, each day of the week highlights a new protein or in Monday’s case, a vegetable.  Then we hit repeat.  It’s time to refresh TUESDAY (short rib), FRIDAY (fish) and SUNDAY (lamb).

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TUESDAY | Braised Short Rib with celery salad & crème fraîche 20

Harry’s sous chef Chris Cantu explains, “we season beef short rib with salt and pepper and hard sear both sides in a cast iron pan.”  At the same time mirepoix is sauteed and added to a hotel pan with tomato paste. It’s deglazed with red wine, brought to a boil, and then poured over the short rib.  The chefs slow roast the meat until tender for 3 1/2 hours at 350 degrees.  The celery salad, simply tossed in a lemon vinaigrette, adds a refreshing crunch to cut into the richness of the short rib.

IMG_0978FRIDAY | Wood Oven Roasted Local Fish with summer grain salad & aioli 21

“We call into Trigger [Seafood] on Wednesday and ask for the order to arrive Thursday so we are ahead of the game,” Cantu continues. “Last week it was Redfish, but it’s always different depending on what George sends us on any given week.  Sometimes it’s Snapper, other times Black Grouper.”  The fish is seared off and tops a summer grain salad of rice, bulgar wheat and farro that’s been tossed with small diced red pepper, zucchini and preserved lemon and champagne vinaigrette.  The contrast in temperature of a classic garlic-based aioli melting into the warm fish and its juices coating the fresh salad means this dish only gets better as you consume it.  Or rather, as it consumes you! The smells wafting from the plate are divine.

IMG_1063SUNDAY | Wood Oven Roasted Leg of Lamb with tabouli, yogurt, mint 20

This harissa-spiced leg of lamb is rubbed and marinated on Saturday night with ancho chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper,  ground caraway seeds, lemon and orange zest, and salt and pepper that’s been made into a paste with a little canola oil.  The leg is roasted whole at 350 degrees for 3 hours, and then carved into 7 ounce portions.  At service, a couple slices hit a sizzle plate to sear off in the wood oven before they hit a bed of yogurt.  Tabouli with the addition of rosemary plumped raisins to balance spiciness of the lamb finishes the dish.

Let us know what you think of our new Daily Entrées. Tag #HPDailyEntrees on your next visit to #HPDesignDistrict!