Hot and Hot Fish Club's Tomato Salad

Seasonal, contemporary American cuisine with Southern influences define the offerings at this award-winning restaurant located in Birmingham, Alabama.

Hot and Hot Tomato Salad

Recipe courtesy Chris Hastings, chef-owner of Hot and Hot Fish Club, Birmingham, AL

6 large beefsteak tomatoes, cored, sliced into ¼-inch thick slices
2 large golden delight tomatoes, cored, sliced into ¼-inch thick slices
2 large rainbow tomatoes, cored, sliced into ¼-inch thick slices
½ pint sweet 100 tomatoes
¾ cup plus 3 tablespoons Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe follows), divided
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 smoked ham hock
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
1 fresh thyme sprig
1 cup fresh field peas (such as black-eye, pink-eye, crowder, or butter beans)
3 ears of yellow corn, shucked
2 tablespoons peanut oil
4 cups vegetable oil
30 pieces whole baby okra, stems trimmed
¼ cup whole-milk buttermilk
¼ cup corn flour
¼ cup cornmeal
¼ cup all-purpose flour
6 slices applewood-smoked bacon, cooked until crisp  
¾ cup chive dressing (recipe follows)
6 tablespoons chiffonaded fresh basil

In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes with ¾ cup of the balsamic vinaigrette, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Combine the ham hock, onion, thyme and field peas in a medium stock pot with enough cold water to cover the peas. Bring the peas to a simmer and cook until just tender, approximately 12–15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain and cool the peas, removing and discarding the ham hock, onion quarters and thyme sprig. Place the cooled peas in a mixing bowl and set aside.

Shave the kernels off the corn cobs into a medium bowl, discarding the silk hairs. Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn kernels and cook until tender, about 8–10 minutes. Season the corn with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat, allowing the corn to cool slightly. Add the corn and the remaining 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinaigrette to the cooked field peas. Set the pea mixture aside to marinate at room temperature until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, pour the vegetable oil into a large, deep skillet to a depth of 3 inches. Preheat the oil until a deep-frying thermometer reads 350˚F.

Place the okra pods in a small bowl with the buttermilk. Toss until well coated.

In a separate bowl, combine the corn flour, cornmeal, all-purpose flour, and season with salt and pepper. Drain the okra from the buttermilk and toss it in the cornmeal mixture, shaking off any excess cornmeal mixture. Place the okra in the preheated vegetable oil and fry each okra pod for 2–3 minutes, or until golden. Remove the okra from the hot oil with a slotted spoon and place it on a paper-towel-lined plate. Season the okra with salt and pepper, to taste.

To serve, arrange each of the different types of tomatoes on 6 plates. Divide the pea and corn mixture evenly on top of the tomatoes. Arrange 5 pieces of fried okra around each plate and place 1 slice of crispy bacon on the top of each salad. Drizzle 1–2 tablespoons of the chive dressing over the salad and garnish each plate with 1 tablespoon of the basil chiffonade.

Wine Recommendation: Chef Hastings recommends pairing the salad with Domaine Jacky Renard’s 2008 Saint-Bris Cépage Sauvignon Blanc from Burgundy.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup finely chopped fresh chives
½ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup chopped green onions
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Whisk together all of the ingredients in a large bowl. The vinaigrette can be used immediately or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Be sure to bring the chilled vinaigrette to room temperature and whisk well before serving. Yields 1 cup.

Chive Dressing

1 small garlic clove, peeled and finely minced
6 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup olive oil
¼ cup crème fraîche

Combine the garlic and chives in a small bowl. Add the egg yolk, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and whisk to combine. Add the olive oil in a thin, steady stream, while whisking vigorously to create an emulsion. Whisk in the crème fraîche. If the mixture is too thick, add a few drops of water. Cover and chill the dressing for at least 20 minutes before serving. This dressing will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two days. Yields 1¼ cups.

Read about the Hot and Hot Fish club.

Published on June 28, 2012

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