On each edition of the Food Chain, we ask a chef to describe a dish he or she recently enjoyed. The chef who prepared the dish responds and then picks his or her own memorable meal. On and on it goes. Last time, Scarpetta’s Scott Conant praised Pizzeria Mozza’s butterscotch budino, by pastry chef Dahlia Narvaez. And now we want to know what Narvaez has adored of late. Take it away.
“Eating at Eataly, sitting at the fish counter [Il Pesce] with all its wonderful food by chef Dave Pasternack. My husband and I had at least ten dishes and they were all so simple but so good. That night, my favorite dish was the branzino al forno, served with crispy potatoes that kind of represented scales of the fish. The skin was so crisp and almost soufflés a bit, but the fish was perfectly cooked and moist. With a squeeze of lemon, it brought me back to a cold-afternoon lunch on the Adriatic.”
And now, Chef Pasternack lets us in on the dish’s secrets:
“We slice it, add pepper, we put raw sliced potatoes underneath and we cook it in a combi oven, which is a combination of steam and dry heat. This is European technology, they’re just starting to get it in America. This is the first time I’ve ever used one. I put a little bit of parsley, sliced lemon, rosemary, garlic into the cavity. It’s really simple. I sell so much branzino that the quality is exceptional; I move the product very quickly. When it comes out of the oven, we open it up, we add a little more salt and pepper and a little bit of raw oil.”