Have you ever eaten sweet potato leaf tips? Probably not, as they tend to be used for cattle fodder. I first tried them in a Chinese restaurant (well, tables and chairs set out in the alleyway) in K.L. last year. They were fried with belacan as the accompaniment to our oysters with ginger and spring onion main and I was a convert. I’d opt for these rather than spinach any day. Anyway, the friendly lady in charge of our usual market stall pointed them out straight away and as always we were sold.
I’d had a hankering for calamari but we were late to the fish market so no luck there. Then we saw a rather handsome red snapper looking up at us, so we settled on two steaks – especially as they’d go perfectly with the wilted sweet potato leaf tips. But how to cook them?
Snapper steaks à la Meunière with wilted sweet potato tips and sautéed potatoes sound good to you? Well, kind of à la Meunière. If you want to play by the rules, Escoffier’s directions are to season the fish and sprinkle them with flour before frying in hot butter. It becomes a fish à la Meunière with a sprinkle of lemon, a garnish of scalded parsley and a drenching in brown butter. I didn’t have any parsley and wanted to use capers and shallots as a garnish, so just sautéed them lightly and added them to the brown butter. A glass of crisp white wine would have made it perfect…
RECIPE: SNAPPER STEAKS A LA MEUNIERE WITH WILTED SWEET POTATO TIPS
Two snapper or meaty fish steaks
A tablespoon of capers
A couple of finely diced shallots
The zest of half a lemon
A generous squeeze of the juice of half a lemon
A hefty knob of butter (size dependent on how healthy you are feeling)
Sweet potato tips or spinach leaves
A grating of nutmeg
A clove or two of sliced garlic
Even more butter
Two medium-sized potatoes, halved lengthways and sliced
Three crushed cloves
A tablespoon of olive oil and a bit more butter
INSTRUCTIONS: Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan with the oil and sauté the potatoes in a frying pan until golden brown. I’ve seen how they do this in a French restaurant kitchen and they use a whole stick of butter for a two person serving – so this version is positively healthy! Season well and remove from the pan to a dish. Add another knob of butter to the pan if needed and wilt down the sweet potato leaves or spinach, which shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes. Season and add a grating of nutmeg.
Season the fish steaks on both sides with salt and pepper and coat with flour, patting the steaks to dust off any excess. Heat a knob of butter in a hot frying pan and fry the steaks until golden brown on each side – my steaks took two to three minutes to cook on each side. If the steak is very thick (i.e. a longer cooking time is required) you can use clarified butter so it won’t burn. Add the shallots, lemon zest and capers to the pan in the last couple of minutes. Plate up and put another generous knob of butter in the pan (how much depends on how healthy you are feeling). When the milk solids have settled to the bottom and are just starting to turn brown, remove the pan from the heat and spoon the butter over the fish steaks after giving them a liberal squeeze of lemon and enjoy.