In sticking with my new fearless food-self, embracing the foods I’d heretofore hid from, I bought feta for dinner. As much as I love cheeses, I’ve never had a thing for feta. Too salty, or spongy, and I’d tasted it as too-large chunks in otherwise delicate salads too many times before. Things like that can turn a girl off if she’s not set on food fearlessness.
Thank goodness for that, too, or I would have never tasted melted feta. Now, if you’re like me and you hold things against feta for it’s spongy saltiness, then do yourself a favor and melt it; with a little help from added ingredients, the cheese transforms, no sponginess and nothing overly salty, a creamy coat of cheese spiked through with little chunks of not-yet-melted feta. By broiling it you even get little browned spots that will certainly be your favorite part.
The fish we used was opah, or moonfish. The skin has the prettiest pattern—little moons—and even though it’s too tough for me to eat, I left it on. Unless you want to tell guests too take off the skin before eating, I suggest you skin the fish beforehand. Opah is a meaty fish, a lot like swordfish or tuna, and can be used interchangeably with other meaty fishes. Like these other fishes, though, opah, as pretty as it is, has high levels of mercury.
I mixed the feta with some mayonnaise for creaminess, fresh dill and orange mint, a delicious breed of mint that I’ve been growing and raving about. It’s slightly citrusy with a touch of orange, not overpowering like lemon or cinnamon mint is—perfect for salads or fish, or eating little leaves as you water.
The herbs flavored the fish perfectly; with the feta and mayonnaise it was a lot like a tangy compound butter. Try to slice the lemon as thinly as possible, with a mandoline or a very sharp knife, because I have a feeling too much lemon would overpower. We served the fish with toasted orzo with fennel and saffron (from the recent issue of Gourmet, where I found the recipe for the fish) that was so good, it deserves it’s own post (after I make it again with a tweak or two). It would be good served with rice, but not as good, I think, so here’s the link to the orzo in case you can’t wait.
Moonfish with Feta and Lemon
adapted from Gourmet, June 2009
2 pieces moonfish (opah) fillet, or substitute mahi-mahi or swordfish
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup crumbled feta
2 tablespoons chopped orange mint, or substitute regular mint
1 tablespoons chopped dill
squeeze of lemon juice
8 very thin lemon slices
Preheat broiler. Put a cast-iron skillet in the oven to preheat as well.
Season fish with a little salt and pepper.
Whisk together mayonnaise, feta, herbs, and lemon juice and spread over top of fish. Put 2 lemon slices (slightly overlapping) on center of each fillet. Drizzle lemon slices with oil.
Broil fish 8 inches from heat until just cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. If topping browns before fish is cooked, cover loosely with foil. Serve fish with orzo.