- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Servings: 4 to 6
- Yield: 1 platter
- 6 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled, coarsely chopped
- 5 medium carrots, peeled, sliced into 1/8-inch rounds
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 Tablespoons ketchup
- 1 teaspoon sugar for added sweetness, if needed
- 3 ( 6 ounces each) Alaska rockfish filets, thawed, each cut in half
- Several sprigs dill for garnish
- 1/3 cup prepared horseradish (recipe follows)
- Chives, to garnish
- 6 oz chunk fresh horseradish root, peeled, trimmed
- 11/4 cup distilled white vinegar or rice vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
Step 1 Read the chef's notes
In our family we lovingly call this dish ‘The Carrot Fish’. It has deeply personal meaning to me as I’ve been eating it for as long as I remember eating. My grandmother made it every holiday and family gathering. My mom continues the ritual and makes it every time our family and friends gather. Now it is my duty as her son to continue the tradition. With only five main elements, this dish is humble yet complex. It is brilliant in its simplicity, relying only on fresh ingredients and a watchful eye to transform it into a symphony of flavors.
It is adaptable, as any white fleshed fish will work. But my personal favorite is Alaska Rockfish. It stays moist and flaky throughout the process that requires it to cook and cool for hours. Also, it’s mild flavor easily absorbs the taste of stewed carrots as the rockfish patiently waits under its cloak to be consumed.
I can’t possibly imagine serving this dish without prepared horseradish. We always, always eat the two together. There are few good brands of prepared horseradish you can purchase. But, just in case, you would like the taste of the authentic, I provide a recipe that’s close to the way my grandfather prepared it.
So, without further ado, it is my absolute pleasure and honor to introduce “The Carrot Fish”.
Horseradish Note: The potency of prepared horseradish depends on two things: freshness of the root and how soon after grating it is prepared. For a very potent preparation, mix with vinegar, salt, and sugar immediately after grating. Always prepare it by hand, not in a food processor. The fast motion of the blade will bruise the root too much and turn it gray. Also the heat generated by friction of the blade will warm up the root and turn it bitter tasting.
-Chef Vitaly Paley
Step 2 Prepare the horseradish
Grate horseradish on a microplane over a medium bowl. Position the root at a 45-degree angle. Give it a quarter turn every minute or so. The tip of the root will develop a look of a sharpened pencil. Stir in vinegar, salt, and sugar. Place prepared horseradish in a storage container, cover loosely and refrigerate until ready to eat. It will keep for about a week, stored tightly covered and refrigerated.
Step 3 Prepare carrot topping
Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and bay leaves into a straight sided sauté pan; turn heat to medium. Immediately after, add onion and carrots. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cover tightly and cook, stirring frequently, until all ingredients are cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove cover, stir in ketchup. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Turn off heat and taste for seasoning. Because this dish will be eaten cold, I recommend adding a bit more salt and a little sugar, especially if carrots do not release enough of their natural sweetness.
Step 4 Cook rockfish
In a nonstick pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Pat rockfish filets dry with paper towels; season fish generously with salt and pepper. Cook 3 fish pieces at a time until cooked through and golden brown on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Arrange filets on a platter, overlapping slightly. Spread carrot topping evenly over fish. Cover loosely and refrigerate until completely cold, about 1 hour or overnight.
Step 5 Assemble
When ready to serve, garnish with dill sprigs and serve with prepared horseradish on the side.