Demonstrating a talent for pan-roasting fish
When boat people lay down their fishing equipment, and step from deck to dock at the foot of Mansion Avenue, Great Kills, the lure of the water sport takes a new turn.
Invariably, their search is for a seafood dinner at a comfortable restaurant where they can relax and exchange “fish tales” with table- or barmates.
Chef/restaurateur Larry Cole is waiting for them at Cole’s Dockside — his restaurant on the Great Kills Harbor waterfront — with a menu designed to satisfy any sea-lover’s needs.
Regular patrons have made the chef’s pan-roasted Pecan-Crusted Mahi Mahi the signature item at the seafood restaurant. That’s why Cole chose to demonstrate it as his contribution to the Advance’s on-going Chef’s Technique series. MAKING IT LOOKS EASY
Home cooks often are intimidated when it comes to pan-roasting or searing fish quickly on top of the stove. They’re afraid of overcooking it, or overpowering the delicate seafood flavor with seasonings that are too imposing. When the chef puts his culinary training to the test, however, it all looks easy. But that obviously comes with the training.
Chef Cole starts his pan-roasting technique by first cutting the fish in half lengthwise, removing the center bones, stripping off the skin and then cutting the flesh into fillets. “Sometimes, if the fish is big, I butterfly it. It looks like eight to 10 ounces on the plate, but the pieces really weight only six or seven ounces,” the chef noted, as he launched into severing the fish into sections with a sharp knife.
“This dish has become popular by word of mouth,” said Cole.
“I grind the pecans in a food processor and then mix them with panko — the Japanese bread crumbs, along with chopped parsley, salt and pepper,” he explained. The fillets then are dredged first in the flour, dipped in egg wash and then coated with the pecan-panko mixture before being pan-roasted in clarified butter.
“When they’re golden brown on both sides, I finish them in the oven at about 400 degrees, until they’re cooked through — about seven or eight minutes,” he said.
Cole then drizzles on what he calls “an all-purpose glaze” — a mix of orange juice and teriyaki sauce, and then sprinkles on chopped strawberries. “The glaze shouldn’t taste too strong. You don’t want it to overpower the pecan crust or the seafood,” he said.
“I serve it with a vegetable medley — zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli and escarole, and potato croquette or garlic mashed potatoes,” the chef explained. LOYAL FOLLOWING
A native South Shore resident and a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, N.Y., Cole amassed plenty of restaurant training both on the Island, in Manhattan and Florida before opening Sweet Basil, the Annadale restaurant he operated for 18 years. After a two-year hiatus, he launched Cole’s Dockside four years ago.
With its glassed-in dining room and an outdoor deck overlooking the water, the eatery entices both people who berth their boats nearby as well as land-based regulars.
The bar area where fishermen often congregate offers its own menu, and it’s not unusual for one of the regulars to bring in his catch-of-the-day — monkfish, striped bass, fluke or tuna — and ask Cole’s kitchen staff to cook it up for the bar crowd. “It’s OK with me,” said Cole. “They usually leave the leftovers for me to turn into a special for that night’s dinner menu.” NOT JUST SEAFOOD
“This isn’t just a seafood restaurant,” said Cole. “For appetizers, we have asparagus wrapped in prosciutto with melted gorgonzola, stuffed baked clams with broccoli raab, lobster and arugula salad and fresh mozzarella with broccoli raab and prosciutto, served with a brown garlic sauce.”
“Main courses include porterhouse steak, rack of lamb, mako shark and we always have fillets like halibut and tilapia,” said the restaurateur. Duck is on the menu and in the winter, he usually stages a game festival. Pasta lovers are taken care of with such menu items as Penne Vodka with Shrimp and Orrichette with broccoli raab and sun-dried tomatoes.
The menu changes with the seasonal availability of both seafood, game and meat. “I get most of the seafood from a purveyor in New Jersey,” said Cole, adding, “That’s where I get all my oysters, clams, mussels and in summer, the steamers and king crab legs.” DINNER SPECIALS
Cole’s Dockside is located at 369 Cleveland Ave., Great Kills, a few steps from Mansion Avenue, and can be contacted by calling 718-948-5588.
The restaurant, with seats for 74 in the main dining room and additional space in a private party room, is open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 11:30 to 9 p.m. Dinner menu specials are available every night.
Happy hours take place from 3 to 6 p.m. in the bar and deck areas where a four-course, price-fixed Sunset Dinner menu is available Monday through Friday at $17.95 per person. Lunch is served throughout the restaurant until 3 p.m.
Here’s Chef Cole’s recipe for the restaurant’s prized Pecan-Crusted Mahi Mahi. PECAN-CRUSTED MAHI MAHI (Serves 1) 1 fillet (6 ounces) mahi mahi 1/2 pound ground pecans 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs Salt and black pepper, to taste 1/4 cup chopped parsley 1 cup flour 3 eggs, beaten with small amount water 3 tablespoons clarified butter 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce Strawberries, hulled and chopped Glaze: cup orange juice concentrate 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with a few drops orange juice 1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
In food processor, grind pecans. In bowl, mix pecans with panko, salt, pepper and parsley. Dredge mahi mahi first in flour, in egg wash and then in pecan-panko mixture.
Heat clarified butter in skillet on top of stove. Add mahi mahi and lightly brown in butter; turn over and pan-roast on other side, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Put in oven heated to about 425 degrees to cook through. Serve on plate. Add a ladleful of Orange Glaze and garnish with chopped strawberries. Serve with potato croquette or garlic mashed potatoes and a vegetable medley.
To prepare glaze: In saucepan, combine the orange juice, teriyaki sauce and cornstarch mixture; bring to a boil to thicken. Add sugar to taste.