By Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson
Today I am in the kitchen with one of Birmingham’s most celebrated chefs, Frank Stitt. Stitt could have chosen a dish that would show off his culinary skills to cook for us today. But instead, he is cooking a simple French fish dish, which we at-home cooks can easily make. His fish paillard is served at Chez Fonfon and at Highlands Bar and Grill, which Stitt owns with his wife and business partner, Pardis, along with their Bottega Café and Bottega Restaurant.
Fish Paillard and Fig Relish Ingredients:
4 2 ½-ounce thin slices of very fresh fish, such as tuna, wahoo, cobia, swordfish, or grouper (lightly pounded to an even thickness about 3 inches x 2 inches and less than ¼ inch thick)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 fig leaves
4 ripe yet firm figs, cut into quarters
1 red onion, cut into thick slices and charred on a grill or in a pan, coarsely chopped
4 sprigs of fresh mint
4 parsley leaves
6 walnut halves
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
Season the fish with salt and pepper and rub with one tablespoon of olive oil. Grill the fish on one side until rare. Grill the fig leaves until charred and aromatic. In a mixing bowl, combine the figs, onion, torn mint leaves, parsley leaves, and walnuts. Add the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil, vinegar, and the juice of half a lemon. Place the fig leaf on a plate (as a nonedible garnish) and the grilled fish alongside the leaf. Spoon the fig relish over all and serve. Serves two.