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Fast and Furious Fusion Fish Sandwich!

March 27, 2007

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I hate the word fusion. I always have. It’s never worked for jazz in my opinion, and it doesn’t work for food. But here it is in agoodfoodblog…fusion. What can I do? Fusion.

This fast and furious little piece of fish fusion was developed some years ago while I was working at a grand, belle epoque style establishment in San Francisco’s theatre district that’s known for its wood fired pizzas and its wonderful shellfish platters. Some of you know which establishment this might be, but I won’t divulge here.

I started making these sandwiches for a number of reasons; the first of which is that they kick ass in the deliciousness department. Secondly, though, was the fact that in addition to my normal mise en place I was also cooking regular staff meals for around 25 people on a daily basis. It’s a tricky thing that staff meal. It has to be good, because who needs bitchy waiters, right? But it also can’t take too long to make and it has to use only leftovers, and it also has to feed and satisfy people from all over, from Connecticut, Idaho, Oaxaca, Guam, Vietnam, Sonora, Los Angeles, Jalisco. It’s kind of like the Vietnamese sandwich, or banh mi with the baguette and the cilantro, but with the avocado and radish, it’s got this whole California Chicano thing going on, and then there’s the mayonnaise and the chili garlic and you’re like…this is as Nor Cal as it gets.

Tilapia was often used as part of the staff meal rotation because it’s cheap, but it’s also pretty tasty when prepared right. And as a farmed product, there are some benefits to be had in the i-don’t-want-mercury-in-my-food agency and also in the i-don’t-want-to-overfish-the-oceans bureau. If you have any slender whitefish on hand, you’d be encouraged to make a substitution. Catfish, in fact, would also deliver some high octane pescatarian eating. Lots of people aren’t into mayonnaise, which I’ve never quite understood, but in this preparation the eggy goodness in the fluffy white stuff helps firm the sauce in the oven, accounting for a good degree of the dish’s success.

Any good chef has a huge repertoire of staff meals. It’s an absolute necessity, and the day this sandwich was born, I had about 35min to prepare it all for those lucky 23 people. It was under these pretenses that I created the FFFFS.

In this case, the procedure is simple and the results are rewarding.

Here’s what you need:

2 fillets Tilapia (about three quarters of a pound to one pound)
1/2 T light oil, safflower, peanut, etc
3 T Mayonnaise (make fresh if you’re feeling frisky)
1 T Huy FongChili Garlic sauce
1 Avocado, halved and sliced
Some thinly sliced Easter Egg or other radish
A few sprigs of Cilantro
1 Lime, cut in 7 pieces
1 baguette, cut in thirds and then in half lengthwise for three sandwiches, or cut in sixths for smaller ones
Kosher salt and fresh ground white pepper

Here’s what you do:
Preheat oven to 425F

Slice tilapia in half lengthwise, discarding any bone or cartilage if found.

Slice the thicker half of the fish in half again, but obliquely and in a moderate lateral direction so that it becomes slightly thinner. You should have six pieces that will then cook at the same rate. Bring fish close to room temperature by allowing it to sit in a dish on the counter, lightly covered, for about 10 minutes.

Mix mayonnaise and chili garlic sauce together in a small bowl and add the juice of one of the lime wedges.

Season the fish with salt, ground pepper, and the mayonnaise mixture spooned evenly over all six pieces. Reserve just a bit of the sauce if think you want your sandwich extra saucy.
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Bake the whole sh’bang on a rack set at the highest level for approximately 10 minutes or until the sauce has become bubbly and browned and the fish has just set.
ffff fish
Remove from oven and serve on toasted baguette with sliced radish, avocado, and the cilantro sprigs.

This recipe will make three large sandwiches with two pieces of fish per, or six cute little sandwiches for six little eaters. Maybe those little eaters will want a little salad too, so you may as well have one of those around. Picky little eaters.
ffff sandwich with beer

One Comment leave one →
  1. cris permalink
    January 13, 2009 7:39 pm

    that looks delicious.

    i especially love that the last shot features a carta blanca, one of my favorites.

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