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Moroccan Pesto Rockfish with Clam and Chorizo Sauce

Brasa means "live coals" in Portuguese and that is just how chef Tamara Murphy cooks at her Seattle Washington Brasa restaurant - with live coals. It makes for fantastic tasting local seafood and meats. When she's not manning her spatula Tamara likes to rough it, kayaking and fly-fishing in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. Tamara says to be authentic, you should prepare the pesto in the Moroccan way, by pounding the ingredients in a mortar with a pestle. Most people don't have the patience for that, and besides, it's hard work. This is why food processors were invented.

Serves 4

1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon toasted cumin seed (see note)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
4 6-ounce rockfish fillets
Clam and Chorizo Sauce (recipe follows)
1 green onion, slivered, for garnish

Mortar and Pestle Method:
Place the parsley, cilantro, garlic, cumin, lemon juice, and salt in a large mortar with a little of the olive oil and pound into a paste with a pestle. Add the remaining olive oil. Slather mixture on the fish and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.

Food Processor Method:
Place the parsley, cilantro, garlic, cumin, lemon juice, salt, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until mixture forms a paste. Add remainder of olive oil, a tablespoon or so at a time, and pulse to mix well. Slather on the fish and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.
Heat a scant 1/4 inch of good olive oil in a large saute pan. Remove the rockfish fillets from the refrigerator and saute approximately 4-5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fillet. Fish should be cooked through until opaque and flaky for best flavor.
To serve, place the cooked fillets on a platter, and place the clams around them. Spoon the sauce over the fish and garnish with green onion slivers.
Note: To toast cumin seeds, heat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread seeds on a baking sheet and cook until fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Clam and Chorizo Sauce
12-20 small clams (3-5 per person)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1 pound chorizo or other flavorful sausage, crumbled
1/2 cup white wine
Salt and pepper to taste Juice of 1 lemon, strained

In a large pot or saute pan, heat olive oil. Add shallots and garlic and cook on low heat for 1 minute. Add sausage and cook through. Add tomatoes, clams, and wine. Cook until clams open. (Discard any that don't open.) Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Adapted from Coastal Cooking with John Shields
Broadway Books ©2004

 

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