Let’s Make a Deal

by lifeundeveloped on January 3, 2012

 Ever not go grocery shopping in weeks and then when you finally go, you buy literally EVERYTHING?

Well that was what I did yesterday.

It had been about a little over two weeks since I last went food shopping.

Plus I was hungry.  Double whammy.

That resulted in going to three different grocery stores which led to me buying lots of superfluous items to clutter my cabinets with.

I did however score a really great deal of some triggerfish at the “Taj-ma-teeter” [The big Harris Teeter in Southpark].

I walked up to the fish counter, and the fish guys got all “let’s make a deal” with me.  I’m gullible and I really like deals, I was SO in.

They first tried to sell me some lobster tails and salmon at a bargain price, which I swiftly denied.  I finally chose some triggerfish [also at a bargain price] because it was something different than I usually get.

I left the fish counter feeling sublimely satisfied and then had an “Oh shit” moment.

What the hell am I going to make with this fish?

I got home and looked through everything I just bought.

Surely I can come up with something, I just bought enough food to last me a month.  I have no excuses.

For some reason I had risotto on the brain.

Risotto and fish?

I dig it.

So I made a simple risotto with caramelized shallots, garlic and leeks.  Flavored with some herbs, drowned in homemade chicken broth and finished off with a little butter and cheese. [Because what’s risotto without butter and cheese??]

I kept the fish preparation super simple as well.

Seasoned with some olive oil, salt and pepper.

Pan seared in butter.

Then finished it off with a simple lemon butter sauce, that was tossed with fresh tomatoes and capers.

This dinner was epic.

The risotto was perfect.

I’m almost positive it would pass the Tom Colicchio test. [Top Chef anyone?]  Top Chef is now engraved in my brain. Every time I make risotto now, I think of past Top Chef contestants who have made it on the show and failed.  It’s overcooked. It doesn’t spread, etc,etc.  There has only been a few times that I can remember where the chefs have made a successful risotto.

This to me, was spot on.  The risotto spread out on the plate, not clumped.  The rice was tender.  It was creamy and flavorful.

I was at first a little hesitant with pairing the fish with the risotto, but I’m sure glad I did.

Triggerfish itself is a mild but slightly sweet fish.  The simple preparation of it was just what it needed.

Oh and that lemon butter sauce with the tomatoes and capers was so simple but so good.  It also went really well with the risotto.

Can’t find triggerfish? You can totally make this with some sea bass, grouper or any other white fish of choice.


Triggerfish with lemon butter sauce, tomatoes and capers and risotto

by Vanessa Smith


For risotto

  • Arborio rice, About 1 cup
  • Shallots, 1 small, thinly sliced
  • Garlic, 2 cloves, minced
  • Leeks, 1 bunch, sliced [about 1 cup sliced]
  • Dried basil, 1/2 tsp.
  • Dried oregano, 1/2 tsp.
  • Chicken stock [or any other stock], About 3 cups
  • Olive oil, 2 Tbsp.

For fish and sauce

  • Triggerfish, 2 filets [about .87 lb.], cut into 4 smaller portions
  • Unsalted butter, 1 Tbsp
  • Olive oil, 2 Tbsp.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Roma tomatoes, 3 each, diced
  • Capers, 2 tbsp.
  • Lemon, one half, juiced


For the risotto

Pour the chicken stock into a sauce pot and heat up on a low heat.

In another pot, heat up the olive oil over medium heat and saute the shallots and garlic. Once softened add the leeks and give it a stir. Once the leeks have softened, add the dried oregano, basil and arborio rice. Give it a stir and lightly toast the rice.

Once the rice is a slightly golden in color, add the warm chicken stock a ladle full at a time. Stirring frequently. You’ll know when it is time to add more stock when the rice has absorbed the majority of the liquid in the pot. Continue doing this until the stock is gone and rice is cooked. Finish the risotto off with salt, pepper, butter and cheese [if desired].

For fish and sauce

Drizzle the four small portions of triggerfish with 1 tbsp of the olive oil, salt and pepper.

In a saute pan, heat up the other tbsp of olive oil + butter. Once hot enough, add the fish [skin side up] and let brown for about 1 1/2 -2 minutes. Then flip and finish cooking another minute or so.

Remove the fish and let rest on a plate. Then to the saute pan, add the lemon juice, one small pat of butter, tomatoes and capers. Let simmer together for a minute, then remove from heat.

To plate, spoon risotto on the bottom of a plate, top with two small pieces of triggerfish and top with the lemon butter tomato caper sauce.

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Vanessa :-)

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