Kentucky Fried Blowfish by Chef Andrew D’Ambrosi, Bergen Hill (Video)

Despite its infamy for dramatic reality housewives (hey Teresa Giudice…), we must admit: Bravo gets it right when it comes to food.

Lights… Camera… Action…. Chop, Chop.

As a former contestant on Top Chef, Andrew D’Ambrosi made it into the top six of season 4 before packing for home and returning to New York. But the Brooklyn-born culinary creative clearly didn’t stop working his magic after a stint on the small screen.

Having already been a sous chef at Asia de Cuba and China Grill in, working in Miami, London and NYC, Andrew made his way from Michelin starred Le Cirque, to Norwood, to Cienfuegos; a Latin infused cocktail bar and restaurant in NYC, where he still serves as Executive Chef.

Aside from Cienfuegos, the other 24-seat restaurant on his resume, Bergen Hill Seafood, in Carroll Gardens, is where we met up with Andrew. He taught us how to fry a blowfish, in a Kentucky-like fashion.

That’s right.

He had our attention at ‘Fried’ and our unwavering love at ‘Blowfish.’

Andrew, who grew up in Florida, says his techniques and presentation are French influenced while his plates – crudos, carpaccios, tarrtarres – are locally and responsibly sourced.

We’re not just impressed, but putting our money where our mouths are. You’ll find us jumping on the subway to Brooklyn to visit for another fish dish, and dish-specific cocktail pairings, ASAP. And join us in the summer – we’ll be seated outdoors.

Buttermilk Brine

Ingredients

  • 
1 qt buttermilk
  • 2 cloves garlic (grated on microplane)
  • 2 lemons (1 zested and juiced, 1 sliced into thin rings)
  • 
1/2 dill (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp spice blend
  • 1 tbsp salt

Steps

1. Combine all ingredients and place blowfish tails inside to marinate for at least 3 hours.

Spice Blend

Ingredients

  • 
1 cup fennel
  • 1/2 cup cumin
  • 
1/2 cup anise seed (not star anise)
  • 
1/4 cup coriander
1/4 cp black peppercorn

Steps

1. All spices should be whole before toasting all together in an oven at 375f for 6-7 minutes.

2. Allow to cool and transfer into a spice blender and grind to a powder. Reserve.

Seasoned Flour

Ingredients

  • 2 qt flour
  • 1 cup spice blend

Steps

1. Combine flour and spices and mix thoroughly.

2. Reserve until needed.

Corn Puree

Ingredients

  • 6 ears of corn
  • 1 1/2 qt water
  • Salt

Steps

1. 
Remove the corn kernels and reserve.

2. In a medium pot combine the cobs and water and simmer for at least 45 minutes.

3. Strain the liquid into another pot and add kernels for about 8 minutes.

4. Separate the kernels from the liquid.

5. Puree the kernels in a blender till smooth then push through a chinois to remove skins.

6. Chill and reserve.

Fennel Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 heads fennel
  • 1 pt cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
  • 1/4 mint (leaves picked)
  • 
1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 lemon

Steps

1. Shave fennel thinly on mandoline and reserve in water with the juice of 1 lemon.

2. Reserve.

3. Combine the vinegar and honey in a bowl and stir till honey dissolves.

4. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to container.

5. Take fennel out of the water and shake off any extra water before placing in bowl.

6. Add the tomatoes and some mint leaves.

7. Now add the honey/vinegar for dressing(not too much!)

8. Season with salt as needed.

KFB: Kentucky Fried Blowfish

Ingredients

  • 2lbs Non-poisonous blowfish tails
  • 2-3 qt frying oil (soy or peanut oil) at 350 degrees

Steps

1. Remove blowfish tails from their brine and place in the seasoned flour.

2. Lightly squeeze blowfish till they’re caked and shake any excess flour off before carefully laying them one at a time into the hot frying oil (make sure you have a kitchen spider and a plate with layered napkins to place the blowfish on).

3. 
Allow to fry for about 3-5 minutes depending on size.

4. Do not put too many in at one time as it will lower the oil’s temperature (they won’t be crispy!).

5. Season the blowfish with salt immediately.

Plating

1. Place 2 tablespoons of corn puree in the center of a plate and tap from the bottom of the plate to flatten into a circle.

2. Now begin to lay the salad across the corn puree in a line along the plate.

3. Carefully lay pieces of blowfish (tail-side up) on the salad allowing them to stand up.

4. Serve and eat before they’re cold!

Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 qts tomatoes (quartered)
  • 1 cup garlic cloves (sliced thin)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 pinch chili flakes
  • Salt and pepper

Steps

1. Combine olive oil and sliced garlic in a deep pot.

2. Turn on heat and continuously stir till garlic is golden brown.

3. Immediately add the tomatoes and cook on high heat stirring to avoid scorching.

4. You will need to stir constantly towards the end until the sauce is dry.

5. Meaning, there isn’t any excess liquid, it should be tight.

6. If you are unable to withstand the molten tomato eruptions at the end, you can transfer the sauce to a tray or casserole dish and bake in the oven at 375f for 10 minutes to finish evaporating the sauce.

7. Once out, allow to cool before seasoning with salt and pepper. At this time you can also add chopped basil, capers, or any other garnishes you want. 
Reserve until needed.

Head to our Guest Chef section for more amazing recipes, tips, & tricks from some of the most talented chefs in NYC.

What do you think of Andrew’s Kentucky Fried Blowfish? Would you try this at home or leave it to the pros? Tell us in the comments below!

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Hilary Sheinbaum is a University of Florida graduate and Writer/Reporter/Blogger/Person.

Hilary has contributed to dozens of publications including USA TODAY, Marie Claire magazine, ELLE.com, The Village Voice, amNew York and MensFitness.com. She writes about entertainment, food and beverage, love/dating and beauty.

She has been featured on FOX News, HuffPo Live, PIX11 News, StyleBlazer.com and People.com as a Lifestyle and Entertainment Expert.

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