Slow-Baked Grouper with Heirloom Tomato Vierge & Fine Herbs
2 1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 heads garlic, split in half
4 oz. basil with stems attached, washed
4 Tbs. coriander seeds, toasted and crushed
4 large heirloom tomatoes, about 2 lbs.
1 cup minced shallots
3 Tbs. fleur de sel
1 Tbs. black pepper
2 oz. sherry vinegar
8 (2 oz.) grouper filets, 1 inch thick
8 sprigs thyme
8 lemon slices
1 cup finely chopped herbs (chervil, tarragon, parsley, and chives recommended)
Place two cups of the olive oil, garlic, basil, and coriander in a saucepan and warm over medium heat until you see a slight bubble in the oil. Remove saucepan from heat and let ingredients sit in the oil for one hour. Strain through a fine mesh sieve or chinois.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Score the tomatoes with a paring knife by slicing an X just through the skin on their bottoms. Put the tomatoes in the boiling water for 10 seconds, remove, and drop them immediately into a bowl of ice water. Once the tomatoes are cool, remove them and pull off the peel. Cut tomatoes in half. Squeeze them to release the seeds and pulp, which you may discard or save to use in a tomato sauce. Dice the tomatoes. Add the shallots, fleur de sel, black pepper, and sherry vinegar. Fold in one cup of the room temperature infused olive oil.
Preheat oven to 225°F.
Place the grouper filets in a shallow baking dish and coat them in some of the remaining one-fourth cup olive oil. Season with fleur de sel and top each with a sprig of thyme and a lemon slice. Bake the fish for 12 to 15 minutes until tender and slightly opaque.
Remove fish to a platter. Discard the thyme and squeeze the lemon over the fish. Mix the chopped herbs in with the tomatoes and spoon them over the fish. Drizzle platter with juice from the tomatoes and olive oil. Serve immediately.