I need a major detox right now.  For the past two weeks I have been overindulging to the max and have totally skipped the gym.  I know that most of us have resolutions to get healthy in the New Year and I do alright for most of the year, but when December rolls around I fall victim to holiday overeating.  The funny part of this all is that I don’t even celebrate Christmas.  I don’t have anything against partaking in the festivities, though.  I’m all ready to eat holiday cookies and spreads, no reservations for me there.

I’m sure many of you can share similar stories.  So I won’t go on and on about this because it’s been said and done before.  I made this dish before the holiday hoopla, before I got on the “see-food” diet.  I most certainly will come back to my normal routine now that I am no longer at my parents’ place for the holidays.

Speaking of the “see-food” diet, we can change that to the seafood diet.  This fish dish I made is full of clean and simple flavors.  I was lucky enough to find some local Bay of Quinte Perch, a lake fish that is very mild.  But feel free to use your favorite white fish as a substitute if perch isn’t available to you.  I “perched” the perch (forgive me for the cheesy joke) over a warm red cabbage salad with a leek vinaigrette.  It was a satisfying dish that made you feel good after you ate it not only when you ate it, as is the case with many guilty pleasures.

Pan Seared Perch over a Red Cabbage Salad with a Warm Leek Vinaigrette

Serves 2 (can easily be doubled, tripled)

Ingredients

for the fish:

extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound perch filets (or white fish of your choice and skin on or off)

1 cup flour (there will be flour left over, but I like to have enough to easily coat the fish)

1 teaspoon Spanish paprika

the leaves from 4 sprigs of thyme

salt and black pepper, to taste

for the red cabbage:

extra-virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

red chili flakes, to taste

1 cup sliced leeks, white and light green parts

1 small shallot, chopped

juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup of chopped green herbs, parsley and chives

3 cups thinly sliced red cabbage, can be done on a mandoline or by knife

salt and black pepper, to taste

sea salt

lemon wedges and extra green herbs, for garnish

Method

Prepare the fish first. Mix together the flour, Spanish paprika, thyme, salt, and pepper together in a shallow dish and coat the fillets of fish with the flour mixture and tap off any excess flour.  Set the fish aside on a rack until ready to pan fry. This step can be done up to 2 hours in advance.

Next, make the leek vinaigrette by heating a sauté pan on medium heat with some olive oil.  Add in the garlic and red chili flakes (to taste) and allow them to infuse the oil for a minute.  Then, add in the leeks and shallots, season with salt and black pepper and allow them to soften and almost caramelize, this should take 10-15 minutes.  When the leeks are done squeeze in the lemon juice and toss in the herbs and red cabbage and turn off the heat.

Now, it is time to cook the fish.  In a clean sauté pan, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and then add in the flour coated fish (skin side down if you are using fish with skin).  Allow the fish to sear on each side for about 2-3 minutes, depending on the thickness of your filet.  Once the fish is in the pan, don’t touch it until it is ready to flip because it might break.  Set the fish on paper towels to absorb any excess oil, but there should not be much because the fish wasn’t deep-fried.  At this point, also sprinkle a little sea salt over the fish. You can keep the fish warm in a low oven while making the red cabbage, if you like.

To serve place the fish over the warm red cabbage salad and you can garnish with lemon wedges and green herbs.

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