If you really love food, you can love to create great recipes.
Yes! Glamorous Grouper encrusted with pistachios and drizzled with lavender honey sauce. I found this lovely-sounding recipe on the My Recipes website several months ago
I didn’t immediately rush out to buy the ingredients to make it, because I assumed, correctly, that they might be a little difficult to procure. However, I continued to keep my eyeballs peeled when I went shopping at various supermarkets. Sometimes the Fresh Market had Grouper and sometimes it didn’t. Pistachios were easily obtained but not lavender honey. In the meantime, the recipe haunted me like a beautiful strain of music you can’t get out of your mind. I could just taste it: rich salty nuts, fresh Grouper tasting of the Gulf of Mexico and an exquisite note of sweetness from the lavender honey, mellowed by butter and tamed by a splash of lemon. This Grouper was starting to become my Great White Whale!
As time went on, I found that Grouper was now readily available at the Fresh Market. But I still could not find any lavender honey. I searched for it on-line and found that it could be purchased from the Savannah Bee Company. It was pricey to begin with and the shipping charges were hardly negligible. I had recently been to Savannah, but had by-passed the bee company because I was not looking for lavender honey then. I was certainly kicking myself.
As luck would have it, we visited Blue Ridge, Georgia one weekend and had lunch at the Mercier Orchard. After lunch we strolled around looking at all the wonderful things for sale. They had every kind of jam, jelly and preserves a fruit-loving brain could conjure up. Far in the back of the store, I saw a tasting going on. I made a bee-line (no pun intended) to see what was on offer. Lo and behold, they were having a tasting of Lavender Honey from the Savannah Bee Company! I swooped in on the last bottle and gleefully made off with my precious bounty. Guess what we had for dinner the next weekend?
And yes, it was wonderful. It can be made in a flash and in less than fifteen minutes you are sitting down to a very special meal. Here is how to make the magic happen:
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
You will need:
3 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs (I used Panko breadcrumbs)
5 tablespoons finely chopped unsalted dry roasted pistachios (shelled, of course)
4 (6 oz.) grouper fillets
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
Combine the breadcrumbs and pistachios in a shallow pan or bowl. Dip fillets in the egg whites and dredge in the breadcrumb mixture. Place fish on a shallow pan lined with parchment paper, bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Drizzle fillets evenly with Lavender Honey Sauce. Here’s how to make it:
Melt two tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons lavender honey and 1 tablespoon lemons juice. Stir to combine and cook until slightly thickened.
The sauce takes only a few minutes to prepare so you can make while the fish is cooking.
Now here are a few words to the wise about possible substitutions. One reviewer of the recipe couldn’t find lavender honey but she could find lavender and honey. She put dried crushed lavender in the honey and let it sit. She does not say how long to let it sit, so I guess you would start with several hours and work your way up to a day or two, tasting often to make sure the lavender does not become too overwhelming. If you do decide to buy lavender honey from Savannah Bee Company, your investment should last quite a while. According to the label, it is naturally slow to crystallize. And you are only using two tablespoons at a time, so you can make the recipe many times before you run out or find that your precious honey has become hard and opaque.
One more tip: do yourself a favor and buy pistachios already shelled. If you don’t the recipe is going to take quite a bit longer than 15 minutes to make. Especially if half the pistachios you shell end up in your mouth.
On the day I decided to make the recipe, I had to face the fact that the store might run out of fresh grouper, so I tried to think of substitutes. I found an almost identical recipe for pistachio crusted salmon and decided I would try it if no grouper was available. I think cod would also be nice to try. But go with the grouper if you can find it.
If you want to prepare the perfect entrée for an impressive dinner party, this recipe is great because it so quick and easy to prepare you will have lots of time to enjoy your guests. The recipe’s creator recommends an accompaniment of sautéed spinach but I served it with roasted asparagus and rice pilaf.
Bon Appetite from the conqueror of the Great White Whale!