Swordfish, caught locally with harpoons, is a fish that plays nicely with these elements of caponata: young, tender grape leaves, pickled tiny shoots, and dried grapes from the previous year’s harvest.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 1 | globe eggplant, 425 grams (15 ounces)
- 300 grams | 1 cup kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 20 grams | about 3 cloves garlic
- 300 grams | 1 ⅓ cups extra virgin olive oil
- 10 grams | leaves from about 2 thyme sprigs
- 800 grams | 2 ¾ cups kosher salt
- 20 grams | 1 ¼ cups fresh grape leaves
- 240 grams | 8.5 ounces swordfish loin
- 100 grams | ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 20 grams | 1 ½ tablespoons ascorbic acid
- 2 kilograms | about 8 cups water
- 8 | baby artichokes
- 20 grams | 1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 40 grams | ⅓ cup carrot, in 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) pieces
- 40 grams | ⅓ cup celery, in 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) pieces
- 60 grams | ⅓ cup yellow onion, in 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) pieces
- kosher salt
- 750 grams | about 3 cups dry white wine
- 500 grams | about 2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
- rice bran oil, for deep-frying
How to Make It
- FOR THE EGGPLANT CONFIT: Cut the eggplant in half and score the flesh with a paring knife. Cover the eggplant with the salt and let cure for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Rinse the eggplant halves under cold water and pat dry on paper towels. Place the halves, cut side down, in a baking pan. Crush the garlic and place in the pan along with the olive oil and thyme. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour, until very tender. Remove the eggplant from the pan and scrape the flesh from the skin, discarding the skin. Loosely drape a piece of cheesecloth over the opening of a container, then secure the cheesecloth in place with butcher’s twine. Put the eggplant pulp in the cheesecloth and let stand for 1 hour to remove excess liquid. Mince the pulp with a knife to a fine puree and season with kosher salt.
- FOR THE SWORDFISH PREPARATION Combine the kosher salt and grape leaves in a food processor and mix until pulverized. Bury the swordfish in the salt mixture in a plastic container and let cure for 45 minutes in the refrigerator. Rinse in a bowl of ice water and pat dry on paper towels. Cut the loin into 4 equal pieces, put the pieces and the oil in a vacuum bag, and seal on high. Cook the swordfish in a hot-water bath at 138°F (59°C) for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath. When the swordfish is ready, immerse the bag in the ice bath for 1 hour, then store on ice in the refrigerator.
- FOR THE CRISPY ARTICHOKES: In a bowl, dissolve the ascorbic acid in 1 kilogram (4 cups) of the water. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, use a paring knife to remove and discard the green leaves by peeling them away from the artichoke, exposing the white leaves underneath. Remove the tips of the white leaves and, using a vegetable peeler, peel away the green skin from the stem. Immediately submerge the artichoke in the acidulated water. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.
- Heat the olive oil in a rondeau over high heat. Add the carrot, celery, and onion and sweat for about 5 minutes, until translucent. As the vegetables cook, season with kosher salt to inhibit caramelization. Drain the artichokes, add them to the pan, and then add the wine and cook for 20 minutes, until the wine is reduced by half. Add the lemon juice and the remaining 1 kilogram (4 cups) water and bring the liquid to a simmer. Cook the artichokes for about 20 minutes, until tender when pierced with a knife tip. Remove the pan from the heat and cool the artichokes in their cooking liquid in the refrigerator.
- Pour the oil to a depth of 4 inches (10 centimeters) into a deep fryer or deep, heavy pot and heat to 300°F (150°C). While the oil is heating, remove the artichokes from the cooking liquid and pat dry on paper towels. Working in batches, add the artichokes to the hot oil and fry, keeping just the leaves submerged, for 3 minutes, until the leaves are crispy but the heart and stem are still soft. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with kosher salt. Keep warm until ready to serve.
- FOR THE PRESERVED GRAPE SHOOTS AND LEAVES: Combine the water, kosher salt, and ascorbic acid in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the shoots and leaves, turn down the heat to a simmer, and cook at 160°F (71°C) for 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the leaves and shoots cool in the cooking liquid. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- FOR THE PINE NUT CLUSTERS: Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Line a sheet pan with a silicone baking mat. Spread the pine nuts on the prepared pan and toast in the oven for 10 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a bowl, add the grape leaves, brown rice syrup, and kosher salt to the warm nuts, and toss to coat evenly. Return the pine nuts to the sheet pan and bake for 5 minutes longer, until the nuts are dry. Let cool on the pan on a wire rack, then break into small clusters. Store the clusters in an airtight container with silica gel packets at room temperature.