One of the most pleasurable evenings I ever spent in Australia was cooking dinner in the kitchen of food entrepreneur Melissa Wong and her husband, Robert. A simple vinaigrette, whipped up in minutes and serving as a salad dressing, a marinade, and a sauce, is the unifying factor in this dish. If you can’t find barramundi—a popular fish down under—halibut, cod, or another mild white fish is equally delicious. The quick-pickled red onions are a great condiment for this and many other dishes.
For the pickled onions:
- 1 medium red onion
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
For the vinaigrette:
- Juice and zest of a lemon
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs, such as dill, flat-leaf parsley, and oregano
For the main dish:
- 4 barramundi fillets, each 6 to 8 ounces
- 4 loosely packed cups of baby arugula, spinach, or mixed greens
- 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 Persian cucumbers, diced
- 1 lemon, quartered
Make the pickled onions: Thinly slice the red onion into rings and place them in a pint canning jar. Bring the water and apple cider vinegar to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the sugar and salt and pour the liquid over the onions. Let cool to room temperature before serving.
Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest and juice, vinegar, honey, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Whisk until the salt and honey dissolve. Slowly add the olive oil, continuously whisking until the vinaigrette emulsifies. Stir in the minced herbs. Taste the vinaigrette, adding more vinegar or salt and pepper as desired. Pour 2/3 of the vinaigrette into a separate container and set aside.
Place the fish fillets on a rimmed sheet pan and lightly brush both sides with the 1/3 of the vinaigrette from the mixing bowl. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Toss the greens, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the reserved vinaigrette to lightly coat and divide among 4 plates. Top with equal amounts of the pickled onions.
Light a grill or preheat a well-oiled stovetop grill pan to medium-high. Arrange the fillets, skin side down, on a well-oiled grill grate or in the preheated pan. Cook until the edges begin to turn opaque, 2 to 3 minutes for thin fillets and 4 to 5 minutes for thicker fillets. Carefully turn and cook the other side until the fish is cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes more, taking care not to overcook them. Arrange a fillet on each of the prepared plates. Drizzle with the reserved vinaigrette and garnish each plate with a lemon quarter.
Yields 4 servings.