Coctura’s White Fish in Tomato Sauce

Coctura“Wow, this place is so romantic!”

—Prompto Argentum, FFXV

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced thickly crosswise (about 1½ cups)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • One 2-ounce can anchovies, drained and chopped
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 8 ounces fresh tomatoes (about 1 medium tomato), seeds removed and chopped
  • 1 12-ounce jar pitted Kalamata olives, drained
  • ¼ cup (60 g.) drained capers
  • Zest of 1 lemon or 1 slice preserved lemon, chopped
  • ½ cup (4 ounces) dry white wine
  • 2 fillets of barramundi (sea bass) or other white fish, about ½ pound each
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 French baguette
  • Freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep oven-safe skillet with lid.  Add onion and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring frequently and reducing heat as needed to prevent burning. Add anchovies and red pepper and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the wine, scraping the browned bits. Stir in tomatoes, olives, capers, and lemon.

Place the fish fillets in the pan, skin-side down if skin has not been removed, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spoon vegetables on top. Bring to a simmer, cover, and transfer to oven. Bake until fish is opaque in the center and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 130°F, about 12 minutes.

Turn off oven and remove skillet. Place baguette in oven for a minute or two to warm.

Divide fish and vegetables between two plates, sprinkle with parsley, and serve with the baguette.

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Grilled Wild Barramundi

Grilled Wild Barramundi“You’re fishin’ up a storm.”

—Gladiolus Amicitia, FFXV

  • 2 barramundi (sea bass) or other white fish, about 1 pound each, cleaned and fins trimmed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 fresh marjoram sprigs
  • Olive oil

Clean and oil the grill grate thoroughly to ensure the fish won’t stick. Prepare grill for medium-high heat.

Pat fish dry and rub all over with olive oil. Season inside and out with salt and pepper. Sprinkle cavities with chile flakes and turmeric. Stuff each cavity with 2 lemon wedges, reserving the remaining 4 wedges for later use. Add 1 thyme sprig and 1 marjoram sprig to each cavity.

Place fish on the grill. Test after about 5 minutes by pressing up through the grate with a carving fork. If it doesn’t release easily, let it cook longer before attempting to flip it. Once it’s ready to flip, position a spatula on the other side of the fish to complete the roll.

Continue to cook until slightly charred and cooked through, about 135 degrees, 10–15 minutes total. Serve with lemon wedges.

Makes 2 servings.

Fisherman’s Favorite Paella

Fisherman's Favorite Paella“At this rate, we’re gonna fish this place dry.”

—Gladiolus Amicitia, FFXV

  • 4 medium Lucian tomatoes (about 1 pound)
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed saffron threads
  • 2 cups chickatrice stock
  • 1 cup dry Veldorian white wine
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 dozen medium Caem pinkshrimp, shelled and deveined, tails on (about 12 ounces)
  • 8 ounces fresh fish, skin removed and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 8 ounces Galahd chorizo, cut into thin diagonal slices
  • 1 medium bulbous wild onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored and chopped
  • 4 Kettier garlic cloves, peeled and minced or pressed
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 dozen Cleigne mollusks, scrubbed, beards pulled off
  • 8 ounces Saxham or Arborio rice
  • Coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Coarsely grate tomatoes into a bowl and discard the skins. Toast saffron in a large saucepan over medium heat for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add broth and wine, bring to a boil, reduce heat to very low, and cover.

Prepare grill for medium direct heat. Place a medium enameled paella pan on the grill and add 4 tablespoons olive oil. Season the shrimp and fish with salt and pepper and add to the pan along with the chorizo. Cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add onion and peppers and cook until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and continue to sauté, stirring frequently, until liquid evaporates and paste turns a shade darker, about 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, and paprika. Sauté for a few minutes, until garlic is golden. Add rice. Mix well and pat flat.

Pour hot saffron liquid evenly over rice. Simmer for 10–12 minutes without stirring, rotating pan if needed to cook evenly. Nestle in mollusks around the rim of the pan, hinge-side down. Arrange shrimp, fish, and chorizo on top. Continue to cook without stirring until mollusks have opened and rice has absorbed the liquid and is al dente, 5–10 minutes.

Remove paella from heat and cover loosely with foil. Let stand for about 5 minutes. Uncover and scatter with parsley. Makes 4 servings.

Insomnia-Style Ramen Toppings

Gladio eating kakuni“Minced meat is the key to every perfect cup of noodles.”

—Gladiolus Amicitia, FFXV

  • 20 grams kombu (dried seaweed)
  • 27 grams katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup mirin, divided
  • 2 pounds pork belly
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 large knob of ginger (about 3 square inches)
  • 2 Japanese green onions (negi) or leeks
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup sake
  • ¼ cup soy sauce

To make the dashi stock:

Put the kombu in a saucepan and cover with 4 cups water. Soak for at least 3 hours.

Place the saucepan over medium heat. Just before boiling, when you start to see bubbles forming around the edges of the pot, remove pan from heat and discard kombu.

Scatter katsuobushi over the surface of the water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat.

Let the katsuobushi sink to the bottom, about 10 minutes. Strain the stock through a sieve lined with a paper towel or coffee filter. Gently squeeze to release extra liquid. Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 4 days, or freeze.

To make the kakuni and eggs:

Combine soy sauce, ¼ cup mirin, and ¾ cup water in a plastic bag and place in a sturdy bowl. Refrigerate for later use.

Pound the pork on both sides with a meat pounder, then use your hands to mold it back into its original shape. Cut into 2-inch chunks.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet or frying pan over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add pork cubes, fat side down, and sear until brown. Once browned, turn and quickly cook all six surfaces until browned.

Push the meat to one side and add sugar to the liquid fat. Stir until it’s a bit caramelized, then toss with the meat until coated. Transfer meat to a large soup pot and add the star anise.

Peel and cut the ginger into thick slices and add half of it to the pot. Refrigerate the other half for later use.

Remove the white part of the onions or leeks and refrigerate for later use. Chop the green part into 2-inch pieces and rinse well to get rid of any sand or dirt between layers before adding to the pot.

Add water to cover the meat and bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, carefully submerge eggs using a skimmer or ladle. Immediately reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 7 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath. Remove eggs and soak in ice bath for 3 minutes.

While the eggs are soaking, cover the pot and continue to simmer for at least 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Gently peel the soft-boiled eggs, place them in the sauce bag so that they are completely submerged, and close tightly. Transfer to the refrigerator and marinate overnight.

When the meat is done cooking, remove the pieces from the pot and transfer to a paper towel. Drain and discard the cooking liquid and vegetables.

Return the meat to the pot and add dashi stock, ¼ cup mirin, sake, soy sauce, and the rest of the ginger slices. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Remove the lid and cook for 30 minutes more, until sauce is reduced. Transfer meat and sauce to a sealed container and refrigerate overnight.

Slice the leftover white parts of the onion or leeks into thin matchsticks. Slice the eggs in half.

Serve kakuni cubes on top of ramen with the onion pieces and halved eggs.

Garula Stock

Gladio eating soup“Any food you make tastes better when you use good ingredients, right?”

—Gladiolus Amicitia, FFXV

For the broth:

  • Bones from 1 roasted chickatrice
  • 2½ pounds garula trotters, split lengthwise or cut crosswise into 1-inch disks (you can ask your butcher to do this for you)
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or another vegetable oil with neutral flavor
  • 1 bulbous wild onion, skin on and quartered lengthwise
  • 1 head of garlic, skin on and halved crosswise to expose the cloves
  • 1 small knob of Kettier ginger, skin on and roughly chopped
  • 2 leeks, roughly chopped and rinsed well
  • 6 ounces scallions, white parts only (reserve light and dark green parts for garnish)
  • 7 ounces whole alstrooms, or shiitake mushrooms

For the tare:

  • 20 grams kombu (dried seaweed)
  • 30 grams niboshi (dried sardines)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 27 grams katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
  • ¼ cup sake
  • ¼ cup mirin
  • 1 cup soy sauce

Place chickatrice bones and garula trotters in a large soup pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, put a heavy frying pan over medium heat and heat grapeseed oil until lightly smoking. Add onion, garlic, and ginger and toast until lightly charred on most sides, about 15 minutes. Set aside.

As soon as it comes to a boil, remove pot from heat, transfer bones to a colander, and rinse well. Using a chopstick and cold running water, remove blood, dark marrow, and anything else that isn’t beige or white.

Return bones to the soup pot and add charred vegetables, leeks, scallion whites, and alstrooms. Cover with cold water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat, skimming off any scum that appears and wiping off any black or grey scum from around the rim of the pot.

Reduce heat to a low simmer and cover. Check the pot after 15 minutes; it should be at a slow rolling boil. If not, slightly increase or decrease heat as needed. Continue boiling until stock is opaque and thickened to the texture of light cream, about 10–12 hours, checking periodically to ensure bones are submerged and adding more water if necessary.

Remove from heat and let cool until safe to handle, no more than 1 hour. Place a colander on top of a large pot.

Drape with cheesecloth folded into a large square. Strain stock into the colander. Discard bones and vegetables, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Next, make the tare. This is the salty base that you’ll combine with the garula stock when preparing your bowl of ramen. Without the tare, the garula stock is bland and flavorless.

Put the kombu in a bowl and cover with 1 cup water. Soak for at least 3 hours.

Heat the sesame oil in a medium saucepan. Add niboshi and saute for about 1 minute over medium heat until golden, being careful not to overcook. Add kombu and soaking liquid. Just before boiling, when you start to see bubbles forming around the edges of the pot, remove pan from heat and discard kombu.

Scatter katsuobushi over the surface of the water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat.

Let the katsuobushi sink to the bottom, about 10 minutes. Strain the stock through a sieve lined with a paper towel or coffee filter. Gently squeeze to release extra liquid. Set stock aside and discard the fish.

Add the sake and mirin to the empty saucepan and boil for about 5 minutes. Stir in soy sauce and bring to just under a boil. Remove from heat and let rest for a few minutes before stirring in the fish broth.

When you’re ready to prepare your bowl of ramen, bring the garula stock to a simmer over low heat. Place two tablespoons of the tare (fish stock and soy sauce mixture) in a bowl and top with 1 cup hot garula stock. Whisk well to combine and add noodles and toppings.

Ivalice Stewed Chicken with Olives

Ivalice“Food would be a start—the good stuff, mind you.”

—Balthier, FFXII

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced thickly crosswise (about 1½ cups)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • One 2-ounce can anchovies, drained and chopped
  • 1½ lbs. skinless boneless chicken thighs, uncooked
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ras el hanout
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth, divided
  • 8 ounces fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup (180 grams) whole-wheat couscous
  • 1 12-ounce jar pitted Kalamata olives, drained
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or large, deep oven-safe skillet with lid.  Add onion and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring frequently and reducing heat as needed to prevent burning. Add anchovies and spices and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Push anchovies and vegetables to the side and add chicken. Sprinkle with flour and season with salt and pepper. Brown on all sides, about 15 minutes.

Slowly pour in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan. When the wine is at a simmer, slowly pour in ½ cup broth. Add tomatoes and their juices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover. Simmer for about 30 minutes, until chicken is very tender.

Uncover and stir in olives. Cook for 15 or so minutes until sauce is slightly thickened.

Meanwhile, place couscous in a large Tupperware container. Heat 1½ cups broth to boiling and pour over the couscous, stirring once to make sure that the liquid is evenly distributed. Cover tightly and set aside for at least 10 minutes.

Fluff couscous with a fork and divide into 4 bowls, about 4 ounces of couscous per person. Divide stew into each bowl, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

Rikku’s Mix

Rikku's Mix Overdrive“A little bit of this, a little bit of that…”

—Rikku, FFX-2

Do you have half-empty bags of egg noodles, brown rice, and elbow macaroni in your cupboard that never seem to get used up? Frozen hashbrowns that are heading towards freezer burn? Random cans of salmon, sardines, or tuna that just get pushed to the back? Use this recipe as a blueprint for fusing your stockable items to create something more delicious. You can include any cheeses you like, but if you’re having trouble deciding, a high-quality white cheddar is especially good. Grate it yourself instead of buying the pre-shredded kind, which is coated with additives to prevent clumping.

  • 12 ounces of dried pasta or rice, or 20 ounces frozen cooked potatoes, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion or two small onions, peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced thickly crosswise
  • 2 leeks, trimmed, halved, thickly sliced, and rinsed well
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2½ cups (20 ounces) chicken broth
  • 1¼ cup (10 ounces) half-and-half
  • 6 ounces cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce (such as Crystal)
  • 2 6-ounce cans of fish (such as salmon, tuna, or sardines), drained
  • 8 oz. frozen peas or other vegetables (about 1½ cups), thawed
  • 2 ounces panko, crushed potato  chips, or parsnip chips
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about ¼ cup)
  • A dash of smoked paprika
  • 1 lemon, washed well
  • Fresh dill
  • Fresh chives

Prepare the pasta  or rice according to package directions but slightly undercooking it by a few minutes.

In a large oven-safe skillet or Dutch oven, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and leeks and cook, stirring occasionally and seasoning with salt and pepper, until soft and golden, about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slowly pour in wine and continue cooking, scraping the bottom of the pan, until pan is almost dry, about 2 minutes.

Add flour and stir until onion and leeks are coated. Stir in broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and stir in half-and-half. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is bubbling. Stir in cheese and hot sauce, then add fish and peas. Break the fish up with a spatula, add pasta, and stir until combined.

Turn off heat and sprinkle evenly with panko or chips, Parmesan cheese, and paprika. Bake uncovered until bubbly around the edges, about 15–20 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes, then zest one-quarter of the lemon over the top. Use scissors to trim fresh dill and chives over the top. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately. Makes 8 servings.