Photo ready and fla­vor­ful

Los Angeles Times - - FOOD & DINING - By Noelle Carter

It’s a sim­ple, if dra­matic, pre­sen­ta­tion: A but­ter­flied whole branzino is mar­i­nated with turmeric, gar­lic and spicy Thai chiles just long enough for the fla­vors to in­fuse, 30 min­utes or so. The fish is then quickly grilled un­til the skin is bur­nished and blis­tered and the in­te­rior is barely cooked through, and plated un­der an as­sort­ment of fra­grant fresh herb sprigs — mint, dill, laksa leaf — and lime wedges. You could but­ter­fly the fish, or have your fish­mon­ger do this for you.

Reader Patty Richard­son still re­mem­bers the birth­day din­ner she had at Cas­sia, Bryant Ng’s Viet­namese French restau­rant in Santa Mon­ica, and cur­rently No. 7 on Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restau­rants list. The dish was “the very best birth­day din­ner ever,” she wrote.

“It’s a re­ally sim­ple recipe with few in­gre­di­ents, and that’s the idea,” Ng told us in an email. Ng first had the fish in Viet­nam, cooked by a chef friend. “He broiled the dish in the oven; how­ever, we grill the fish at Cas­sia over wood and char­coal to give it a bit of that smoky fla­vor.” The driz­zle of olive oil adds fresh fruity, grassy notes, and the fresh herbs al­low each bite to be a new ex­pe­ri­ence. Ng was happy to share the recipe, and we wish you many more happy birth­days, Patty.

Ricardo DeAratanha Los Angeles Times

THE BRANZINO is mar­i­nated, grilled and cov­ered with herbs.

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