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KJ and I made our way into the city early yesterday for a bit of last minute back to school shopping and some desperately needed fridge restocking.  I had been looking forward to my Saturday in the city all week – a cafe con leche and a nice piece of cake at my favorite cafe; a leisurely stroll along the main boutique street; and the last odds and ends collected at Corte Ingles, Spain’s all-in-one department store, before heading home.

But as we rounded the last bend into Palma, traffic came to a sudden stop.  Accident?  No.  Boat show?  Nope.  It was el primer día de las rebajas, the first day of winter sales in Mallorca.  We managed to find parking in probably the farthest removed underground garage from the supermercado; shoved our way through Zaras; patiently waited in a winding queue at H&M; and penetrated cyclical waves of people as we made our way towards Corte Ingles.

Because of the distance back to the car, our grocery shopping had to be carefully curated – no heavy things and just the necessities, with the exception of ingredients needed for our preselected dinner recipe – a fish bathed in rich puttanesca sauce.  The original recipe from Saveur called for thick swordfish steaks, but I wanted a lighter yet meaty fish that would hold up well in the sauce.  Thus, we chose a large perch fillet, cut into smaller pieces later.

Pesce Persico Puttanesca (adapted from Saveur Issue No. 144, “Swordfish Puttanesca”)

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 4 perch fillets
  • 6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 anchovies in oil, finely chopped
  • 5 large Roma tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • ~180 ml (3/4 cup) large green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1/8 pint (1/4 cup) capers, rinsed and drained
  • 2 dried habanero peppers. finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp. roughly chopped parsley
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/4 pint (1/2 cup) water

Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat.  In the meantime, season fish with salt and pepper.  Add fish fillets to skillet and cook until just browned on both sides, ~3-4 minutes, turning once in between. Transfer fish to a plate and set aside.

Place a touch more oil into the skillet and turn down temperature to medium heat.  Cook garlic and anchovies, until soft and fragrant, ~2 minutes.  Next, add tomatoes, olives, capers, and chile; cook until tomatoes become soft and juices release.  Add enough water to just cover the bottom of the pan.  Allow the mixture to reduce, with a total cooking time of ~15 minutes.  Return fish to skillet; add parsley and lemon juice.  Cook until fish is cooked through, ~5 minutes.  Serve fillets with a few generous spoonfuls of sauce.

Beware – our four servings vanished quickly into two!!