Cornmeal Fried Whitefish with Potato Hash

Owner of “Mabel Gray” & “Root” Restaurants, Chef James Rigato, prepares a delicious fish dish.

Cornmeal Fred Cod Fish: Serves: 2 Start to Finish: 1 hour

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 Rock Cod fillets (approx. 8 ounces each) or white fish of choice, i.e perch, trout, rockfish, grouper)
  • Cornmeal dredge (recipe follows)
  • Hot pepper jelly (recipe follows)
  • Toum (recipe follows)
  • Gochujang aioli (recipe follows)
  • Sofrito hash (recipe follows)
  • Pea tendrils or micro greens, for garnish

Cornmeal Dredge:

  • 1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cornmeal (We use organic Michigan cornmeal.)
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder (We dehydrate and grind our onion and garlic powder in house. Not necessary, but delicious if you have a dehydrator.)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste

Hot Pepper Jelly:

  • 1 pound hot peppers (jalapeno, Fresno, serrano, cherry bomb)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • &frac14: cup grapefruit juice
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • &frace14; cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
  • Salt, to taste


  • ½ cup garlic cloves
  • 2 cups blended oil
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • Salt, to taste

Gochujang Aioli:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup gochujang paste
  • 2 cups blended oil
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste

Sofrito Hash:

  • 2 large Idaho (or Russet) potatoes, diced medium
  • 1 brown or yellow onion, diced small
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced small
  • 1 ripe tomato, concasse (or small diced)
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste


Rinse fish. Dry and dredge in cornmeal mixture. Make sure to fully coat both sides. In a sauté pan over high heat, add one tablespoon oil. Once hot, add perch flesh side down. Cook until the fish starts to curl on the edges, about two minutes. Flip fish and turn off heat. Remove fish from pan and place on paper towel-lined plate to rest.
To serve, place hot sofrito hash in the middle of a plate split into two portions (See recipe below for reheating instructions if necessary). Crisscross the fish on top of the hash. Drizzle five tablespoons hot pepper jelly over the fish. Add four to five dots of toum and four to five dots of gochujang aioli around the hash and fish. Garnish with pea tendrils or micro greens.

Cornmeal Dredge:
Mix all ingredients together in bowl and set aside.

Hot Pepper Jelly:
Rinse the peppers and remove the stems. Cut in half and, if desired, remove the seeds. Coarsely chop and then place in a food processor. Process the peppers until they are pureed. Transfer to a sauce pot and add the sugar, grapefruit juice, orange juice, lemon juice, vinegar and a few pinches of salt to taste. Cook over medium-high heat until simmering. Continue to cook for about 10 to 15 minutes until the mixture is a syrupy consistency. Taste. The hot pepper jelly should be sweet, spicy, nicely salted, and sticks to the back of a spoon with good acidity at the end. Feel free to adjust where you feel necessary. This lasts a long time in your fridge, so save whatever you don’t use. It is good to have around, I like to use it in place of hot sauce sometimes. It is delicious on a lox bagel as well.

In a food processor, puree garlic until you get somewhat of a paste, about two minutes. Wipe down the sides with a spatula often. Slowly add ½ cup oil stopping to wipe downs sides. Once oil is completely incorporated add 1/8 cup lemon juice in the same manner. Keep alternating between the oil and lemon juice until it creates a fluffy, spreadable sauce, about two minutes. It’s important to do this quickly so the blade doesn’t get too hot causing the toum to separate. Add salt to taste. Add toum to a squirt bottle for plating.

Gochujang Aioli:
Combine egg yolks, garlic, lemon juice and mustard in a food processor. Turn on and slowly incorporate blended oil until creating a thick paste, about two minutes. Add gochujang and salt and pepper to taste. Add to squirt bottle for plating.

Sofrito Hash:
Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, add potatoes, onion, garlic, pepper and tomato. Add ¼ cup olive oil and paprika and combine until vegetables are evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper. On a large baking sheet, spread an even layer of sofrito. Place in oven and cook until potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes. In a sauté pan over high heat, add remaining tablespoon olive oil. Once hot, add sofrito, and cook until mixture is warm and potato edges are crispy, about five minutes.

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