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Squash puree, seared fish...and? Pairing please

Some questions about squash puree. Thanks!

So far, make the puree by dry-roasting whole star anise, cinnamon and clove, grinding in spice grinder. Heat oil and butternut squash, chicken broth, fresh thyme, the ground seasonings. Puree in blender. Add salt, crushed pepper, splash of lime. Stir.

Help!
1. Grind the seasonings or keep whole, discard before blender?
2. What fish texture to pair: white, dense, thick? (Seared with piment d’espelete)
3. Top the fish with salsa verde or is that too much?
4. With broccoli rabe? Shaved Brussels sprouts? Another green vegetable?
5. Mushrooms on plate: Porcini? Chanterelle? Morel? Which complements the squash flavors in taste and texture?

Thanks for suggestions.

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  1. Sorry to rain on your parade, but it is hard for me to imagine that root vegetables and fish go together under any circumstances. To me, roasted and pureed root vegetable says roasted meat, not seafood.

    3 Replies
    1. re: jerry i h

      Thanks. But I keep seeing menus with pairings like seared scallops, squash puree and porcini confit. But I take your point, will also consider meat.

      1. re: SuchTaste

        Are you sure it is winter squash and not summer squash in the puree? I could imagine zucchini with Mediterranean herbs to be a nice pairing with lighter fish or shellfish.

        In these situations I find the book "The Flavor Bible" to be invaluable. Shrimp is listed as a potential pair with butternut squash. Thumbing through at random I see under the entry for skate from Mario Batali: "skate with hen of the woods and butternut squash," but the book does not contain recipes. It lists porcini as the most popularly paired mushroom with butternut squash.

        I've made shrimp with olive oil, garlic, cilantro and allspice before and thought it was really good. It's Arabic. It reminds me of your spice mix.

        Fish tends to be subtle and you need something to stand up to all of those big flavors. I like the tuna idea ok, or maybe something meaty like cod. Personally I think it might be a bit much, but nothing ventured nothing gained.

        1. re: ChrisOfStumptown

          Check out the "Flavour Thesaurus" too

          And don't be afraid to make some of your own entries :-)

    2. Make your beautiful and silky squash puree and grill a couple of tuna steaks. Use a moderate hot sauce and a little butter to top. Make a pretty green salad with croutons or another heavier ingredient. Use a vinaigrette for the dressing. If you can afford the calories, a piece of good bakery or home baked Irish soda bred might be good with everything.

      1. I'm noticing use here of traditional autumn vegetables - parsnips, and now butternut squash - in March. Where are they from? Chile?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Veggo

          parsnips are best when overwintered and pulled in spring, much more flavorful than in fall, actually. And we still have butternut squash in our local winter farmers market, stored since fall.

        2. Just wanted to give you a quick opinion, and it has more to do with texture than taste. Yes, IMO you would want a very meaty fish, quite dense....or a switch to meat. I believe, as it's written, that you're meant to pan-roast whole and then grind. Sounds good. The salsa would add a pop, but maybe on the side for that, since of the piment?
          The rabe has that tiny touch of bitter. Sauteed garlic spinach is also nice. (Oh, I wasn't knocking rabe for that; I like bitter.) The mushrooms are another soft texture, though, and that might just be too much soft. One thing you can do, though, is use a nice big pan and not crowd them at all and let them get just a touch crispy, which might make it happen.
          Enjoy your evening. I'm sure it will be lovely!!

          1. I am here to say that I absolutely love the butternut/acorn squash combo with fish. We do that all of the time, and you are headed on the right track, as far as I'm concerned.
            I think your ideas of espelette on the fish and mushrooms sauteed alongside are spot on. Don't bother over-gussying it with cinnamon or too many more spices though. Let the fish shine and be a savory counterpoint to the sweeter squash puree.
            I usually steam or roast the squash, then puree, but I like your idea of chicken stock, just not totally necessary. Thyme would be perfect.
            Two weeks ago I had sea bass over butternut squash, with a red wine redux and beets. It was pretty tasty. Of course, my now fiance proposed over this meal, so rose-colored glasses and all that...

            2 Replies
            1. re: rabaja

              Congratulations on your two-weeks-ago engagement! That's exciting, and there's nothing quite like a tasty, thought-out meal to toast the moment.
              As for the squash puree suggestions, I'm on board with your tips and mamachef's. And others above. Thanks!

              1. re: rabaja

                Felicitations to you, dear, and congrats to your man. That's lovely.