What is the best thing I ever ate? How can I answer that question for all of you! Really, I have a “best thing” in every food category…best pizza, best burger, best sushi, best steak, best offal, etc. So when this months Kosher Connection link-up challenged me to think about the best thing I ever ate, I had to think beyond my favorite foods. I had to start thinking about the foods that made me say “hmmm…” The ones that inspired me to try something new and different. Once I set my mind to it, the idea immediately popped into my head!
Almost a year ago, I ate at Pardes Restaurant in Brooklyn, NY for the first time (I’ve been there many times since) and I was truly influenced by everything on the menu. Chef Moshe Wendel, the incredible chef and owner of Pardes with his wife, has created a space of pure creativity, where burgers meet liver and marrow and eating “dirt” is actually a good thing. Chef Moshe has a way of combining unique flavors that you might never think would work, like pumpernickel ice cream and bitter panna cotta, but when they come together in your mouth, it’s like heaven. Actual heaven! So with all of the dishes that I’ve had at Pardes, and there have been alot since Chef Moshe changes the menu monthly, there still sticks out in my mind. On that special occasion when I first visited Pardes, I had these adorable little fish called Whiting with a creamy and garlicky mayonnaise made with anchovies. I always thought I hate anchovies but let me tell you that I was totally wrong! I remember asking the waiter “what are Whitings?” and that always gets me excited. Not knowing what I’m about to eat is such a thrill and this dish had me practically jumping for joy. After that visit, I immediately emailed Chef Moshe to thank him for the incredible meal and to ask him if he would share the recipe with me. Man, I’m glad he obliged! To my shock, Chef Moshe put capers in the anchovy mayo and I usually despise capers. I love challenging my palate! After visiting a few grocery stores, I found whiting fillets at Pomegranate in Brooklyn and I brought them home and froze them until I found the right opportunity to make this incredible dish. And here it is!
Whitings with Anchovy Mayo
recipe from Chef Moshe Wendel at Pardes Restaurant
6-8 whiting fillets
1 cup Wondra Flour
3-4 cups canola oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup drained oil cured anchovies
1 clove raw garlic
2 cloves sauteed garlic
1 lemons (zest and juice)
1 Tbsp capers
1/2 Tbsp mustard
big pinch black pepper
tiny pinch chili flakes
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
I made the mayo first since it was super easy to make. Lots of ingredients with very little work. I combined the mayo, anchovies, garlic, lemon juice and zest, capers, mustard, pepper, chili flakes and olive oil in a food processor. Chef Moshe uses a Vita-Mix Vita Prep but I don’t have one so I went with a simple food processor.
I processed until smooth. Done! Really doesn’t get any easier and the combination of ingredients is beyond my imagination. Anchovies in mayo? Yes please!
Now on to the fish! In a cast-iron skillet, I heated up the canola oil to around 325 degrees F. I used a candy thermometer to make sure my oil wasn’t too hot since it is very easy to overheat your oil. I seasoned the fish with salt and dredged in the Wondra.
When the oil was hot, I deep-fried the two fillets at a time for 5 minutes, until the outside was crisp and starting to brown. You don’t want the oil to cool down by adding too many fillets. Check out how the ends curled up in the hot oil!
I removed the fried fillets and placed them on paper towels to soak up some of the oil. I continued cooking two fillets at a time until all the fish was cooked.
I served the fish with a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley, a few lemon wedges (which I squeezed all over the fish) and the delicious anchovy mayo for dipping. Yum! It’s like I’m right back at Pardes, just without the fish heads.
recipe from Chef Moshe Wendel at Pardes Restaurant, Brookyn, NY