In general, my preference has always been for simple, hearty, comfort food (whether I'm at home or at a restaurant). I know that the satisfaction I get from satisfying a craving always surpasses the euphoria from a fancy looking plate of food. I do enjoy both, but do think that going to a nice restaurant from time to time, especially if there's an occasion to celebrate.
Most nights after work, I tend to cook something simple. Really simple. What I like to do on Sundays is to cook in bulk for the week ahead and also something special (that I won't be able to do on a weeknight) for dinner as a treat. As much as I love cooking my comfort foods (like pasta, curry, stews etc), I must admit that it's really nice to attempt something different occasionally. And trust me, this rolled garfish dish could not be any more different from what you normally see in my kitchen at home.
This dish first came to mind when I saw filleted garfish at Victoria Market one day. So exciting!! First of all, it's not the most common fish to find and I was also even more surprised because I NEVER see them sell filleted ones before too! They're a very small and delicate fish to deal with, which makes it a lot of work for mongers to fillet. So fiddly and something I would never be able to do at home too. This is also why most people serve garfish whole.
I knew I had to get some to cook at home, it was too good not to. I decided to make a rolled garfish dish because I was inspired by a similar dish I had at a restaurant in Adelaide. I wanted to use quinoa because I was sort of going through a quinoa phase at the time too (such a versatile thing to cook at home, will have to share more quinoa recipes next time). This dish may look like a lot of work but trust me it's easy to make as it doesn't actually require much technique. It's just a bit fiddly. Plus, you can substitute this dish with any normal fish fillet. I just thought that because garfish is such a small fish, it just looks more petit on the plate. Serving one large rolled fish per person is fine and equally presentable too.
Anyway, it was fun playing "chef" for a day and making "restaurant-ey" dishes like these at home. Handling the food delicately, making sure the presentation was good, serving my food on a TILE instead of a plate?! Had a great time in the kitchen. And can I just say, the finish product was really DELICIOUS. It turned out exactly how I wanted it to. The fish was fresh and delicate, backed up with the savoury saffron quinoa stuffing to give the dish more substance, and finished perfectly with that moorish burnt butter sauce. The walnuts in the stuffing really lifted the nutty flavour of the burnt butter sauce too, it was quite nice to say the least.
This is such an unusual dish for me to cook at home but I really enjoyed it and hope you get inspired to cook something different in the kitchen sometime too (hopefully with this recipe)!
Roller Garfish with Saffron Quinoa Stuffing and Burnt Butter Sauce
(an original recipe, serves 2)
For the quinoa stuffing:
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
Pinch of saffron
1 cup quinoa
1/2 tomato (deseeded and diced to small cubes)
1/3 cup walnuts (toasted, roughly chopped)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
For the crumbed topping:
2 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
1 tbsp butter (melted)
For the fish:
8 garfish fillets *
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp corn flour
1 tbsp butter
For the burnt butter sauce:
6 tbsp butter
Few dashes of dried mixed herb
* May be substituted for other fish fillets of choice
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. For the stuffing, place the chicken stock and saffron in a pot and bring to boil. Once boiling, add in the quinoa and simmer until all the liquid has evaporated. Remove from stove and stir in remaining ingredients for the quinoa stuffing. Set aside to cool.
2. For the crumbed topping, mix the panko breadcrumbs and melted butter in a bowl and set aside for later.
3. For the fish, season both sides of the fish fillets with salt and pepper. Taking one fillet a time, place 1 or 2 tbsp of quinoa stuffing 1 inch from the edge of the fillet. Carefully roll the fish fillet (don't worry if some of the stuffing drops out) and hold it together with 1 or 2 toothpicks. If you're cooking with a bigger fish, use skewers instead of toothpicks.
4. Dust the outside with a small amount of corn flour. Heat up a pan with 1 tablespoon of butter. Holding the rolled fish fillets with a tong, sear the outside quickly and set aside on a metal plate lined with baking paper. Repeat with all the remaining fish fillets. The filling may be spilling here and there so top up the centre of the rolled fish with more stuffing until it reaches the top. Place the breadcrumb mixture on top.
5. Place the metal plate with rolled fishes in the preheated oven and bake for 6 - 7 min. Remove and serve on a plate.
6. While the fish is in the oven, melt the butter in a pan with the mixed herbs on low heat until it turns to a dark brown colour (approx. 3 to 4 minutes).
7. To serve, place the rolled fish on a plate and drizzle with the burnt butter sauce. Enjoy.