Editor’s note: Andrea Weigl seeks recipes from Triangle restaurants requested by readers.
My husband and I have one: the crusted fish (usually mahi mahi) over risotto with heirloom cherry tomatoes at Tupelo Honey in Cameron Village. It’s our go-to dish there, the perfect combination of salty, sweet and creamy.
Kara Veringa, the marketing director for the Tupelo Honey Cafe restaurant chain, was happy to share the recipe.
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That’s good for Dixon and other fans of the dish, which Veringa points out no longer appears on the menu.
The popular Southern restaurant, which originated in Asheville in 2000 and now boasts 12 locations across the Southeast, changes its menu seasonally and offers several market fish specials. The Triangle’s only location opened in Raleigh’s Cameron Village in November 2014.
Veringa says this herb-and-panko crusted fish served over cheesy risotto was on the menu for six months. It’s unlikely this exact version of the dish would return to the menu, but a different version could appear.
“Never say never!” Vergina wrote in an email. “We like to keep our chef specialty entree section fresh, seasonal and creative.”
There is other good news. The Tupelo Honey Cafe restaurant chain has a vice president of culinary operations, Chef Eric Gabrynowicz, a four time James Beard award semifinalist. He previously worked for famed restaurateur Danny Meyer at the Union Square Cafe. In 2010, Gabrynowicz became executive chef and partner at Restaurant North, a farm-to-table restaurant in upstate New York. And one of Gabrynowicz’s new menu items for Tupelo Honey is a sautéed market fish wrapped in country ham.
Specialty of the House gets recipes for local restaurant dishes. Send requests, including your city, to Specialty of the House, The N&O, P.O. Box 191, Raleigh, N.C. 27602; or email email@example.com.
Tupelo Honey Cafe
425 Oberlin Road, Raleigh
Herbed Panko Fish Risotto
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped basil
3 tablespoons sliced chives, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 (6-ounce) pieces of white fish
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cups cooked risotto (recipe below)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Toss halved cherry tomatoes with vinaigrette and set aside.
Combine panko, salt, pepper, parsley, basil and 2 tablespoons of chives in a food processor and process for 1 minute. Do not over process. Set aside.
Heat butter and oil in a large ovenproof saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Place buttermilk in a shallow bowl. Place herbed panko breadcrumbs in another shallow bowl. Dip the fish fillets in the buttermilk and then press the top side of each fillet into the breadcrumbs. Press to make sure the crumbs stick.
Place fish, crust-side down, in the skillet and saute for 2 to 3 minutes until lightly brown. Flip fish over and finish in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes.
In another saute pan, place risotto, cream and cheese. Heat over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide risotto among four plates and top each with a piece of fish. Divide cherry tomatoes among the four plates. Garnish with remaining 1 tablespoon sliced chives and drizzle with any remaining juice from tomatoes.
Yield: 4 servings
2 teaspoons chicken base
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil blend
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 sprig thyme
3/4 cup Arborio rice
Dissolve chicken base in warm water. Set aside.
Add olive oil to a medium skillet or saute pan over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until slightly brown. Add thyme and cook for 1 minute but do not burn.
Add arborio rice and stir and cook until the edges have turned translucent but the center is still opaque, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and continue to cook until the rice is al dente, stirring frequently, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings