Sturgeon Bathed in Anchovy Tomato Sauce with Mediterranean Friends

 

As the long days of Winter become shorter and more manageable with hints of sunshine and brighter days to so come, I yearn for something lighter at my table and on my plate. It is still cool outside and the snow is threatening to fall but here in the Pacific Northwest, the promise of Spring begins to show with the happy abundance of fresh fish at my neighborhood seafood market. It is mostly coming from Alaska and Hawaii but some beautiful sturgeon has begun to appear from the Columbia Valley this week. It is Friday night, which, usually means steak night, but with a craving for the briny flavor of the sea (river, lake, pond...) I decide to swap out my fillet of tenderloin for an equally dense fillet of fresh sturgeon. Sturgeon is a very dense, mild fish that lends well to a hot flavorful bath. I don't start in the kitchen with this thought but it occurs to me that I have at my disposal, a freshly made batch of basic tomato sauce, 6 plump, fresh honey mussels (that I couldn't resist purchasing with the sturgeon) and a desire to cook with anchovies (prompted by this contest); the perfect storm! If sturgeon is not available, you could substitute monkfish or cod. The end result evolved into, essentially, a thickened tomato bread soup with accessories. The flavor is briny and intoxicating, offset beautifully by the light, sweet flavor of the fish. Spooning the concoction over warm, crusty bread was a last minute decision that turned out to be a most satisfying addition. If you don't have time or inclination to make the tomato sauce from scratch, there are a number of good-quality jarred sauces that I am sure would work too, but the end result will be different (perhaps even better?).

What you will need

1 tablespoon Olive oil

5 fillets teaspoons or 1 heaping TB fresh anchovy fillets (it is essential to use good quality anchovies, packed in oil, not from a tin. I buy mine out of the refrigerated section rather than off the shelf). 1 cup homemade tomato sauce (recipe to follow)

1 cup homemade tomato sauce (recipe to follow)

1/4 head cauliflower (you will only need 2-3 pieces per person but if you roast the whole head, you could use the remaining for a soup)

some Olive oil for brushing the cauliflower plus fresh pepper

some Olive oil for browning the fish

3/4 pound Columbia River Sturgeon fillet, lightly seasoned with sea salt and pepper, skin and bloodline removed.

1/4 cup Chopped cippolini onions or shallots

2 cloves Chopped garlic

1 tablespoon fresh, chopped rosemary

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed (preferably salt-packed)

6 Castelvetrano olives, pitted, cut in half

2 medium sized tomatoes, cored and cut into 8 pieces

1/2 cup cooked, drained cannelini beans (optional)

1 cup White wine

6 live honey mussels (or the best available to you in your area)

2 qty 1" thick slices crusty bread (heated in the oven or grilled)

1 tablespoon Olive oil

2 cups chopped onions

1 cup chopped carrots

4-6 cloves garlic, chopped and peeled

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 1/2 cups red wine

3 qty 28 oz cans peeled whole tomatoes or diced, unsalted (preferably San Marzano)

2 tablespoons tomato paste (from the tube, Napoleon double-concentrate or 1 small can)

20-30 ginds Fresh pepper

1 teaspoon red chili flakes

2 tablespoons dry oregano

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 cup Fresh basil, chopped

some Sea salt, to taste

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