Mike Lata’s Recipe for Triggerfish Schnitzel With Sunchokes and Greens
At the Ordinary in Charleston, S.C., chef Mike Lata serves up triggerfish as schnitzel—breaded and pan-fried until golden—with sides of roasted vegetables, a heap of greens and a scrumptious caper-brown butter vinaigrette. Here’s a quick version to make at home
By Kitty Greenwald in the Wall Street Journal
“THE SEA IS wild and you have to be flexible,” said Mike Lata, the Charleston, S.C.-based chef known for his way with seafood. With this recipe, in which the fish is given the schnitzel treatment and served with sunchokes, mustard greens and a caper-brown butter vinaigrette, he’s found an ingenious way to make the most of the seasonal catch on the South Carolina coast.
The Chef: Mike Lata
His restaurants: FIG and the Ordinary, both in Charleston, S.C.
What he is known for: Seasonal, straightforward cooking that helped make Charleston a destination food town. Trumpeting the Low Country’s bounty and prolific coastline.
Right now, that means triggerfish. “It’s unique in that its flesh is firm and doesn’t easily overcook,” Mr. Lata explained. “Amberjack, grouper, porgy and swordfish all work well, too.” A more delicate fish won’t stand up to the pounding, breading and pan-frying called for in this recipe. “Halibut or something else that is super flaky and lean dries out,” the chef said.
Mr. Lata’s first Slow Food Fast contribution, this schnitzel is a staple at the Ordinary, his Charleston oyster hall where the menu evolves according to what’s coming out of the ocean at any given time. It’s a way of using different fish in a preparation his customers find familiar and satisfying. “The flavor combination is classic,” he said. “What’s not to love?”
Triggerfish Schnitzel [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schnitzel] With Sunchokes [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerusalem_artichoke] and Greens
Total Time: 30 minutes Serves: 4
- 1 pound sunchokes, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 (5-ounce) triggerfish fillets
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups panko [Japanese bread crumbs.....like try another way like American bread crumbs, or even Tempura batter]
- 2 cups mustard-green leaves, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 3 Meyer lemons, zest finely grated and fruit segmented
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet, toss sunchokes with 1 tablespoon oil, salt and pepper. Spread out in a single layer and roast until browned and tender, about 20 minutes. Set aside. Meanwhile, set a small pot half-filled with water over high heat.
2. Put a fish fillet in a large Ziploc bag and lay it on a flat surface. Gently pound fillet with flat-side of a meat mallet or rolling pin until uniformly about ½-inch thick. Remove from bag and repeat with remaining fish.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and mustard. Pour flour into a second bowl and panko into a third. Season fillets with salt on both sides.
4. Working with one fillet at a time, dredge both sides in flour, then in egg and finally in panko. Set breaded fish aside and repeat with remaining fish.
5. Heat remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, pan-fry fillets, two at a time, until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to warm serving plates and repeat with remaining fish.
6. Meanwhile, place a steamer over pot of simmering water. Make sure water doesn’t touch bottom of steamer. Gently steam greens, covered, until just softened, about 2 minutes. Set greens aside.
7. Pour off half of oil from frying pan, then place pan over medium heat. Add butter and cook until sizzling and golden, 2 minutes. Sauté capers, lemon zest and segments, roasted sunchokes and parsley until butter smells nutty and darkens slightly, 2 minutes more.
8. Spoon sunchoke mixture and sauce over schnitzel. Serve with greens and sprinkle with salt.