Pescado Con Romesco (Fish in Catalan Roasted Vegetable Sauce)

Romesco Snapper Rockfish

Ingredients

Fish
4, 4-6 oz fillets of meaty white fish (rockfish, cod, halibut, etc.)
4 bay leaves
2 T olive oil
salt and white pepper

Sauce
1 red bell pepper
1 lb ripe plum tomatoes
1 garlic head, halved horizontally
1 onion
2/3 c olive oil
3 dried sweet chili pepper (Ancho, New Mexico, Ñora)
1/4 c blanched almonds
1/2 c artisan white bread, crust removed, crumbled
1-2 T sherry vinegar
1 t sweet paprika
salt

Saffron Rice
2 T olive oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 sm onion, diced
3 c water
1 t salt
1/8 t saffron thread
2 c long-grain white rice
1 tomato, seeded and diced
1/2 c frozen peas, thawed

Steps

Pescado Con Romesco
For romesco sauce, pre-heat oven to 350°. Toss red bell pepper, tomatoes, garlic and onion with 2 T olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and roast until soft, approx. 25-30 min. Let vegetables cool, then peel onion, garlic and pepper and seed tomatoes and pepper.

Cover dried chilies with enough hot water to cover and soak for 15 min. Strain and remove seeds. Keep strained liquid. Puree chilies until smooth and strain through a fine-mesh sieve.

Heat 1 T oil over med-low heat and sauté almonds for 1 min until lightly toasted. Remove from the pan. Add bread to the pan and toast until lightly browned (approx. 2 min). Remove from pan.

Sauté the pureed chilies over med heat for about 30 sec then remove from heat.

Place cooled vegetables, almonds, bread, chili puree, 1 T sherry vinegar (add more if desired), paprika and remaining oil in a blender and blend to a thick sauce and season. If too thick, add reserved chili liquid.

For the fish, score each fillet half way through (do not cut all the way) and insert a bay leaf into each one. Heat oil over med-high heat and sauté the fillets until lightly browned on each side, about 3-4 min. Do not move the fish in the pan while sautéing. Finish in 350° oven if necessary, depending on thickness of fish.

To serve, remove the bay leaf from fillets, season with salt and pepper, place over Romesco sauce and drizzle with olive oil.

Saffron Rice
Heat oil in a pot and sauté pepper and onion to soften. Add water, salt and saffron and bring to a boil. Add rice, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15-18 min. Remove from heat, uncover and fluff with a fork. Add diced tomato and peas, cover again and let stand 5 min.