Cooking, like most skills, takes a bit of practice and a general willingness to learn. A great meal is no more than bringing your best to the table. Any chef worth his or her salt will tell you that their favourite meal is one that they enjoyed not for the fancy place setting or how many ingredients were on the plate, but for how it made them feel about what they were eating. Food is as much a good experience as it is about the food itself.
I was lucky to spend an hour with Ole Martin Sætnan from To Rom og Kjøkken to watch him create a scrumptious dish and talk about his love of cooking. He is a humble chef, and as a former one myself, it is evident we speak the same language when it comes to food. It isn’t just a job; it is a way of life and one that gives much. When Ole Martin spoke about his father taking him to his bakery when he was a boy, it was evident he wasn’t just telling me about a moment in his life, he was there again in his mind. When he recounted his first meal at a Michelin star restaurant, he wasn’t just describing a moment or a meal, I could feel him making his choice to become the chef I was speaking to.
Those who cook for a living choose a demanding path. It isn’t just the hours or the physicality of the work; it is the constant need for reinvention and creating from ingredients used for centuries something new. Knowing this does not seem to faze Ole Martin from where I sat listening. The eagerness to use the best the Trondheim region has to offer and never stop creating didn’t need to be said outright.
Ole Martin from invites you to try your hand at his elegant, yet easy to prepare monkfish entrée that is sure to impress your palette and guests.
For many, a recipe without weights and measures seems daunting, but this doesn’t have to be so. Think of your favourite dinner plate and imagine how much you might put on there? Do you want 3 or 4 stalks of asparagus per person? Seems more manageable when you think of it like that. Whether you choose to make this dish for one or ten, it is the same concept. Think in terms of volume – filling up the plate. A recipe is little more than a story for food, so read along and then show someone about what you read.
Ingredients for the entrée:
Fresh filet of monkfish
Pickled red onion (regular if you cannot find pickled)
Finely ground parsley
Buerre Blanc Sauce:
1 dl Dry white wine
.5 dl White wine or white wine vinegar
1 Small shallot
How to start:
There is a term in French chefs use which sums it all up: mise en place. It roughly translates to ‘everything in its place and a place for everything’ and refers to the preparations for dinner service. With a little time spent gathering your ingredients, preparing them and planning your steps you’ll be serving a meal to be proud of. Take it slow, pay attention to the timing of when things will be done, and enjoy the process.
Preparing the Monkfish:
You may choose to clean and portion your fish or ask for it to be done at the fish market. They can also guide you to how much you would need depending on the number of guests.
Take each portion your fish filet and place it in a shallow, lightly buttered, oven-safe dish. Sprinkle a little salt on it and drizzle with a little lemon juice. Cook for 15 minutes in a 140º C with a bit of water in a shallow dish in the oven. When it comes out of the oven, and just before you put it on the plate, dust with the ground parsley. Ole Martin ingeniously used a fine mesh tea infuser to do this.
Preparing your Sautéed Vegetables:
As a general rule, vegetables to sauté should be cut bite-sized because this makes them easy to eat and also, they will cook evenly. In considering how much butter or oil to use when cooking, use enough to allow the vegetables to move but not swim in it. A little goes a long way.
This is where timing comes in that I mentioned before. Start to cook your vegetables at the same time as your fish. When it goes in the oven, your sauté pan should be hot and ready to go.
Allow your pan to heat up on a higher heat, add a bit of butter and toss in your Romanesco. Give it just a minute to cook and add your asparagus spear, and just at the end your pickled red onion. You can substitute with regular if you cannot find pickled (or make it). You want to cook everything, but not so long you lose the all the crispness of the Romanesco and asparagus.
Preparing your Buerre Blanc:
Sauces scare people away, and I am not sure why they seem so complicated, some are to be fair, but most are made with just a few ingredients and a bit of time. For a beurre blanc or any butter sauce, it can be made ahead but needs to be kept warm in an insulated container or a hot water bath.
First, cut your butter into small cubes and return to fridge to keep chilled. Next, finely mince your shallots. In a sauce pan place your shallots and both wines (or wine and vinegar), bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Allow it to reduce to about two tablespoons of liquid. Slowly add a cube or two of butter at a time while whisking rapidly. Remove from the heat before you whisk in the last of the butter and then add salt and pepper to your liking.
If you prefer, you can strain the liquid before adding the butter to have a smooth sauce as Ole Martin has on his dish.
Garnishing your Plate:
When it comes to plating up your meal, be playful! Ole Martin has added fresh herbs, shaved radish and nasturtium blossom petals (from his garden) to his sautéed Romanesco and asparagus mixture. He used the asparagus as the base to showcase the colourful Romanesco broccoli. It comes in green, white and purple varieties, which he has used here.
Less is sometimes more when it comes to a plate. Let everything show itself off, and your food will always look great. Now, enjoy and come back next issue for a new recipe that might become (if this hasn’t already) your favourite dish!
To book a table and learn more about To Rom og Kjøkken visit their website at