Pumpkin flowers, raw


by: Sierra Bake

I love this dish. I'm very proud to have stolen the outline of the idea from a dish created by Jacques Rolancy at Le Laurent in Paris, which he based on something he had seen done by the great French chef Alain Chapel. In Paris the dish was overcomplicated, with quenelles of tapenade and shaped tomatoes and potatoes, but the combination of the flavors of fish, spinach, tapenade and balsamic vinegar was a fantastic one. When we opened Zafferano, I remembered it and started to work on the idea, putting in some crunchy chives and radish, some spinach, and a dressing made with balsamic vinegar. I only occasionally put balsamic vinegar with fish, because it has such an intense flavor, but here it is softened by honey and lemon, and we use a light Ligurian olive oil, as you don't want one that is too strong and peppery. Over the years we have played around with this dish so much, but now I think we couldn't get it any better. I am very wary of saying that I "created" anything in the kitchen — but this dish I do now consider to be “mine".


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serves: 4

4 handfuls of spinach

5 large radishes

small bunch of chives, cut into batons

4 sea bream fillets (each about 1/2 pound, cleaned and pin bones removed)

4 teaspoons sunflower or vegetable oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 teaspoons black olive paste (tapenade)

4 tablespoons Balsamic dressing

1 tablespoon sesame oil

salt and pepper

Nutrition Facts
Pumpkin flowers, raw

Servings Per Recipe: 4

Amount per Serving

Calories: 363

  • Total Fat: 21.9 g
  •     Saturated Fat: 5.8 g
  •     Trans Fat: 0.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 120.5 mg
  • Sodium: 731.4 mg
  • Total Carbs: 4.6 g
  •     Dietary Fiber: 1.1 g
  •     Sugars: 2.9 g
  • Protein: 35.5 g

how is this calculated?

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1.  Blanch the Spinach in boiling salted water for 10 seconds — virtually just in and out — so that you keep the flavor, color and texture. Drain, squeeze out as much water as possible and set aside.

2.  Slice the radishes and then cut the slices into matchsticks roughly the same size as the chives. Mix with the chives and keep on one side.

3.  Season the fish on both sides. Heat 2 nonstick pans if you have them and put half the sunflower or vegetable oil into each. Add the fish, skin side down. When you put the fish in, it will arch upward from the first contact with the heat. Leave it for a minute or so to warm through, then slowly press the flesh down, from the tail end upward, so that all the skin is in contact with the pan and crisps up evenly. You will see some excess fat coming out of the fish between the flesh and the skin — so blot this up with some paper towels to help the skin to crisp up even more.

4.  As the heat travels upward through the flesh, you will see it starts to turn white and opaque. When it is white almost to the top (probably only after about 2 1/2 minutes in all), turn it over and then quickly take it out of the pan. Transfer to a warm tray or plate, flesh side down.

5.  While the fish is cooking, put the spinach in at pan with the butter and warm through. Season and stir in the olive oil.

6.  Spread the skin of the fish with the olive paste. Divide the spinach among 4 plates and spoon the balsamic dressing ever. Place the fish on top. Season the radishes and chives and mix in the sesame oil. Arrange on top of the fish and serve.

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