Conger Eel with Warm Fava Bean-Spicy Sausage Salad

by Liz Caskey on August 28, 2009

Fava_Beanes_&-CongerCongrio con Ensalada Tibia de Habas-Longaniza

To be honest, I didn’t really like favas at all when I first tasted them as a college student in Chile. My host family boiled the hell of out of them to the point of a drab olive green and ate them, including the bitter outer skins, cold. Ugh. Back in the States, I later tried favas (double shelled) at a Portuguese restaurant in Tribeca, Pao, and fell in love.

When I returned to settle in Chile in 2001, I was determined to learn how to treat these poor vegetables with some respect. In Chile there are two growing seasons: one in the fall and one in spring. Therefore we can eat fresh favas almost year-round and the season is just starting so they are extra sweet! I quickly learned that they need to be double-shelled. The wrinkly outer skin has a slight bitterness and chewiness that detracts from the sweet green pod inside. A quick 3-minute blanch loosens up the skins enough to avoid going crazy peeling them.

Lesson 2 learned : favas have a very strong flavor, almost meaty, so they can stand up to spicy, smoky, earthy, and hearty sauces. My favorite experiment to date has been this Spanish-inspired accompaniment using the local longaniza, a spicy pork sausage similar to chorizo, and sherry vinegar. For our Culinary Tour in Santiago, I serve this salad with roasted conger eel (a cousin of monkfish) and a medium body red wine like Carmenere. This combination blows clients away—yes sausage, fish, and red wine can share the same plate happily.

1 1/2 cups fresh, double-shelled fava beans*

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup chorizo sausage, finely chopped

1 red onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon Olive oil for drizzling/brushing

1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro

 4 4-oz. conger eel (or monkfish) fillets

Sea Salt/Black Pepper to Taste

2 Tablespoons minced parsley

In large pot, bring 2 quarts (2 liters) water to boil. Add the raw fava beans and blanch for 3 minutes. Drain and shock in ice water. To remove the intensely green fava, using your fingernail, break the wrinkly pouch and peel it off. 

In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add the chorizo and cook for 2 minutes. Add the red onion and cook until slightly caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for one minute. Add the fava beans and cook for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat. Season with salt, pepper, sherry vinegar, a drizzle of good olive oil, and the cilantro. Mix well before serving.

 Preheat the oven to 350F. On an oven sheet, place the fish and brush with olive oil. Season with fresh black pepper and sea salt. Roast for about 10-12 minutes. Conger eel will render a lot of liquid as it cooks and slightly curl up. Monkfish, similarly is a dense, meaty fish although it may take a couple minutes longer depending on the thickness. With all fish, the clear flesh should become opaque and it will have a firm yet soft texture if you touch it. Fish should always be served al dente to avoid overcooking it. 

Spoon the beans in the center of the plate and mount the fish. Sprinkle the chopped parsley on top for garnish.

Serves 4.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle Salater September 2, 2009 at 4:00 am

Hi Liz, This dish looks delicious. Much like you, I’ve learned to love fava beans. Question: Can you recommend a substitution for the conger eel (or monkfish)? Or can one make this dish without it and still have it taste great?

Thanks, Michelle

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Liz Caskey September 2, 2009 at 2:14 pm

You can make this sans the fish if you like as a side salad even with meat. I personally like the combination of a meaty fish with the flavors but it is hearty enough by itself. I am sure halibut or Chilean seabass would be other dynamite combos. The one thing I wouldn’t sub out is the sherry vinegar. Sherry vinegar has a very particular taste and swapping it, flattens the flavors. Let me know how turns it!

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Michelle Salater September 2, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Hello Liz,

Thanks so much for the tips. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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