Grouper with Zucchini Cakes and Stewed Tomatoes & Olives


It was so simple. Three components. The fish included oil, salt, and pepper and I tossed a few fresh thyme leaves on as it cooked. The cakes had three veg, eggs, and breadcrumbs. The stew was five ingredients with NO salt or pepper added.

But for the amazing moisture content of the zukes we had, this may have been the dish that most closely resembled the flavor combination I anticipated. We didn’t strain every drop of excess water out, so we had some steaming going on in the cakes on the griddle. Not bad, but not the picture in my mind.

Herbert worked miracles pulling those together in the dark on a plug-in Oster griddle. I was cooking grouper in a 12-inch stainless skillet on a high-school chemistry class ceramic hot plate.

The grouper was sweet and fresh. And I have to give a huge thank you to the owner of Fresh Seafood Market in St. Albans, who drove to the store to open it up for us when his staff at the Farmer’s Market called him to let him know I needed 12 pounds of grouper but quick.

Here’s how you can recreate it…

4 grouper fillets
1 jar whole tomatoes in juice
1 ½ cups kalamatta and green pitted olives
¼ cup whole capers
1 med Spanish onion
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
2 carrots
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper

1. Prepare your grouper by tossing with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Set aside in the fridge. Pull it out five minutes before you cook it.

2. Chop the onion half into a fine dice and half into a rough chop. You want some to pulp out and just be flavor and some to remain as larger pieces for texture.

3. Add the onion to a stock pot or sauce pan and sweat in a little olive oil for three minutes. Add in chopped olives and whole tomatoes (crushing by hand as you add them) and juice. Bring to a quick boil and reduce to a low simmer for 20 minutes. Add capers. Turn off the heat and keep it on the stove top ready to ladle and serve.

4. While your tomatoes are stewing away, grate your zucchini, squash, and carrots, pressing to remove as much liquid as possible.

5. Whisk the eggs and add to the veg. Stir through the breadcrumbs. Form into palm-sized patties.

6. Heat a large skillet and add olive oil. When shimmering, drop zucchini cakes in and cook until crispy on each side. Keep warm in the oven.

7. Scrape pan (or get another one dirty, that can be fun too) and cook the grouper over medium-high heat. Turn the grouper when you see the edges on the first side turn opaque. Pull it off the heat when you can see the individual segments (ribs) start to pull away from each other easily (that’s what they call the flaking).

8. Serve the fish over a ladle or two of the tomatoes with a zucchini cake.

Again thanks to Susan for having a camera and a willingness to share her photos.

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