I love shopping in Chinatown. Just coming out of the subway at Grand Street is like being transported to Hong Kong. Except that the parts of Hong Kong I’m familiar with have a lot more Westerners than New York’s Chinatown does. Except for Mulberry street and its plethora of red Sauce Italian places offering a free glass of wine to the overwhelmingly tourist crowd, Chinatown has pretty well taken over what was once Little Italy. And food shopping there is a terrific experience. If only it were closer, I could save a fortune. The prices are simply astonishing. How about 3 lemons for a dollar? Or a huge knob of ginger for .70 cents? And how about the freshest Gray sole, beautifully filleted, for $3.95 a lb? Seriously!
Tyler Florence recently featured Sole Amandine on “Tyler’s Ultimate”, one of our favorite treats on Food TV. Tyler’s food is substantial and his recipes easy to follow. This one requires a lot of concentrated effort in a very short space of time. The fish cooks in minutes and everything is fairly last minute—dipping it into the flour then into the egg mixture then straight into the sauté pan you go. So the best advice I can give you is to get everything “mise en place” –that’s ready to go in French, but you knew that – before you get started.
The best place to start is with the incredible Lemon Smashed Potatoes. We had never tasted anything like these and they’re so ideal with Fish, I am sure this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship. You take buttery Yukon Gold potatoes, boil them in milk (and cream, if you must) and then smash them with some salt and pepper. Then you add the zest of the lemons and that’s it. What you have is something that’s an absolute natural with fish. So here are the recipes.
Recipe for Lemon Smashed Potatoes alla Tyler Florence
6 medium Yukon gold potatoes
2 to 3 cups heavy whipping cream
2 to 3 cups whole milk
2 lemons, zested
Freshly ground black pepper
Put the potatoes in a large saucepan with the cream and milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then add 1 teaspoon of salt. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are very tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove about 2 cups of the liquid and reserve. Add the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Use a potato masher to break up the potatoes while adding about 1 cup of the reserved liquid, to just 'wet' the potatoes. Add more, for desired creaminess.
Spoon the potatoes into a serving bowl and serve immediately.
Recipe for Sole Amandine alla Tyler Florence
For the Fish:
2 cups blanched slivered almonds
Extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup milk
4 cleaned sole fillets (6 ounces each)
For the Sauce:
1 large or 2 small shallots, finely chopped
1 cup white wine
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 chopped flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Set a large nonstick saute pan over medium heat. Add the almonds and toast until golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and set aside.
Return the pan to medium heat (if you have 2 pans you can work simultaneously at this point, i.e. 2 fillets per pan) and add a 2-count of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter to each pan.
Put the flour in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper, to taste. In another shallow dish, whisk together the eggs and milk and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Dredge the fillets in the seasoned flour, then dip them into the egg mixture. Allow some of the excess egg to drain off, then add them to the hot pan. Cook 2 pieces at a time. Fry for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, then carefully turn the fish over to cook the other side. With a spoon, baste the fillets with the butter sauce. Repeat basting to ensure the fish remains moist. Once the other side is cooked (about 30 seconds) carefully remove the fillets from the pan to a serving platter. Repeat with remaining 2 fillets and a 2-count of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter.
Once the fillets have been removed the pan, add the chopped shallots and gently saute over low heat until translucent, about 1 minute.
Deglaze the pan with the white wine and finish with the lemon juice. Swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the parsley and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. To serve, spoon the sauce over the top of the fillets and sprinkle generously with the toasted almonds.