Because we love the cookbook so much, the last time we were both in LA together, we jumped at the opportunity to go to the actual restaurant. Here we are with my cousin and his wife (in case you are confused, this is Eunice’s cousin, not Greg’s). The meal was one of the best we’ve had. The next time you are in LA, make sure to add Luques to your itinerary.
As for the recipe, we made a few changes. We used tilapia instead of halibut, mainly because that’s what was at the Co-op, but also because it’s a whole lot cheaper and holds up pretty nicely while cooking. We also adjusted the butter/oil amounts to make the meal a bit healthier.
This recipe really stood out to me as I was choosing what to cook because fava beans are apparently growing like crazy right now in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t tried favas yet (and you only associate them with a glass of chianti a la Silence of the Lambs) this is the time of year to do it (unless of course you have G6PD, then please don’t try them). They’ve got a nice nutty, buttery flavor with a bit of bitterness that mellows with cooking. To get the best texture and flavor you need to pop them out of the pods, parboil them and then peel the skin of each bean, but I tend to skip the skin peeling step (mostly because I’m lazy). I find that if the beans are cooked thoroughly and are part of a recipe, the difference in taste is not that noticeable. Of course, if I’m eating them alone as a snack, I’ll peel the skins as I’m eating them.
The fish is topped with a Meyer lemon “salsa” and savory (as in the herb, not the adjective) creme fraiche. Savory is not a super common herb and we luckily had some winter savory that we had gotten weeks ago from our CSA and had dried. I’ve read that you can use equal parts rosemary, mint and thyme as a substitute.
We served the fish with a potato, fava bean and pea shoot concoction…so delicious!
Tilapia with Smashed Potatoes, Fava Beans and Pea Shoots
adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques
4 Tilapia filets
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
1 Tbs thyme
2 Tbs flat-leaf parsely, sliced
4 medium sized new or red potatoes, cut into roughly 1 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 Tbs unsalted butter
2 lbs fava beans in the pod (~ 1 1/2 cups shucked)
1-2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
2 oz pea shoots
Savory creme fraiche
Meyer Lemon Salsa
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Mix the lemon zest, thyme and parsely together in a small bowl. Rub this mixture evenly over the fish fillets. Cover the fish and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
2. When ready to cook, remove the fish from the fridge prior to starting the potatoes.
3. In a medium pot, place potatoes and cover with 4-5 inches of water. Add 1 Tbs salt. Bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes can easily be pierced with a fork. Save 1 cup of the potato water and strain the potatoes. Smash the potatoes slightly with a spatula. While waiting for the potato water to boil, go ahead and start preparing the creme fraiche and lemon salsa.
4. Heat a large pan on medium, add the butter and melt. Then add the smashed potatoes and 3/4 tsp salt. Stir until the potatoes are evenly coated. Try not to overstir as this will give you mashed potatoes (still delicious, but will give you a different texture).
5. Add the shucked fava beans and 2-3 Tbs of the reserved potato water. Give this a quick stir, turn the heat off and cover. The beans and potatoes will absorb most of the liquid as you cook the fish.
6. Heat another large pan, this time on high. Add the olive oil and wait until the oil is heated, about 1 minute. Place the fish in the pan. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to cook your fish in several batches. Cook on 1 side until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes. Turn the fish over, lower the heat and cook until it’s almost cooked through, 2-3 minutes. To make sure the fish does not overcook, take the fish out of the pan when it begins to flake easily, but the center is still slightly translucent. The fish will continue to cook to the perfect amount once off the heat.
7. Now, place the potato pan over medium heat, uncover and heat until the potatoes and fava beans are hot. Add the pea shoots and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
8. To serve, spoon the potatoes onto a plate, top with half the desired amount of the savory creme fraiche, spoon half the desired amount of lemon salsa on top of this. Then, place the fish over this and top with the remaining half of creme fraiche and lemon salsa. Alternatively, you can plate the potatoes and the fish next to each other like we did above.
Savory Creme Fraiche
2 tsps savory leaves
3/4 c creme fraiche
Salt and pepper
1. Using a mortar and pestle, mash the savory until a paste forms. Add the paste to the creme fraiche.
2. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper or to taste.
Meyer Lemon Salsa
3 Meyer Lemons (1 of these can be the one you zested for the fish)
1 shallot finely diced
1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp savory, chopped
1 Tbs mint, chopped
2 Tbs flat leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper
1. Supreme the meyer lemons. Discard the seeds, but reserve the juices and segments.
2. Place about 1/4 cup of the juice in a small bowl and add the shallots and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Let sit for 5 minutes to take some of the bite out of the shallots.
3. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Add the lemon segments, savory, mint and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Also, here are some cute pics of the dogs. Dwight loves sleeping in this tree well.