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Crusted Grouper with Italian Broccoli and Vanilla

Crusted Grouper with Italian Broccoli and Vanilla

This recipe is an artful play on the usual fish recipes.  This infuses delightful vanilla, an ingredient more commonly used in making delicious desserts.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised on how the vanilla gives this dish a pleasantly sweet essence, definitely a welcome addition to the spicy and salty ingredients present in this recipe. 

Serves Prep time: 15 minutes  Cooking time: 30 minutes

For the fish:

  • 500 grams grouper fillet, cleaned
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons clarified butter
  • 2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, for searing
  • 3 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
  • 2 pinches dried oregano
  • 2 pinches dried cumin
  • 1 pinch chili pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the sauce:

  • ½ cup fish or chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • ½ whipping cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the potato hash:

  • 6 medium potatoes, cooked until three-fourths done
  • 120 grams smoked bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 6 white onions, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces, caramelized until golden brown
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • Fresh oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Italian Broccoli:

  • 5 to 6 heads Italian Broccoli (also known as Rapini or Kai Lan), sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced finely
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  • Put all the spices together in a bowl and mix.  Massage the fish with the clarified butter, then rub the mixed spices on the fish fillets.  Make sure fish is covered evenly on both sides.
  • On an oven-safe pan, add the fish and sear the flesh side first.  Be careful not to burn the spices.  Then turn the fish over and put the pan inside the pre-heated oven.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until the fish is cooked.  You must be careful to overcook it.
  • Now it’s time to make the sauce.  Mix the stock and cream in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Split the vanilla bean lengthwise using a knife, preferably a paring knife.  Then add both the seeds and the bean to the stock and cream mixture.  To thicken the sauce, add the cold butter then season to taste.  Set aside sauce until ready to use.  Remove the vanilla bean and set it aside for use later.
  • To make the potato hash, peel the potatoes and cut into 2-inch cubes.  Now heat the olive oil in a pan and add sauté bacon and cubed potatoes until light brown.  Add the caramelized onions and fresh sage.  Season to taste.  Place the pan inside until potatoes and bacon become dark brown, about 10 minutes.  Set aside until ready to serve.
  • To make the Italian broccoli, heat olive oil in a pan and sauté garlic until fragrant.  Add the broccoli and sauté for about a minute, or until it wilts.  Season to taste and set aside.
  • Now that you have cooked everything, it’s time to serve the components of the dish individually.  Let your guests construct the dish on their own.

Tip: To make clarified butter, heat unsalted butter over medium or low heat. Keep at a constant simmer, skimming the white foam off the top. Continue skimming until there is no foam left then take the pan off the heat.