Tuscan-style dish is a customer favorite
From the September 2021 issue
Erikah Fitz loves getting feedback from Full Belly American Bistro’s diners. “My guests influence my style,” the chef explains. “I’m very special-based; I change my menu every single day.”
Facebook followers look forward to photos of her spiral-bound notebook, which sports the Lewes-area restaurant’s specials. Highlighted in Day-Glo colors, they’ve included meatloaf, a Korean salmon bibimbap bowl, shrimp-and-chicken gumbo and chicken schnitzel. “My style is very eclectic,” Fitz acknowledges.
The cuisine might travel the globe, but Fitz is a “Beebe baby” who grew up along the coast. The Sussex County native has more than saltwater in her blood. When she was 8 or 9, she helped her father, a head chef, make salads. Her mother, Aimee Lackford, has been in the local restaurant industry for three decades, and when she worked holiday bartending or server jobs, Fitz took over the family kitchen.
It’s not surprising, then, that Fitz would follow in her parents’ footsteps. She started in the dining room but watched how chefs cooked and presented the food in case the kitchen needed help. Eventually, that was the case, and she joined the head-chef ranks just over a year ago. Full Belly owner Chris Parziale is “my true mentor,” she says. “I wouldn’t have the culinary freedom or experience without him teaching me and believing in me.”
Still in her 30s, Fitz’s career highlight comes courtesy of a top Lewes real estate agent, who called her to say a Full Belly meal was the best she’d tasted. The agent’s family ordered every special item on the menu during their visit.
This salmon entree often wins raves. “It is one of my specials at least once a month,” Fitz says. She serves it with whipped Yukon gold potatoes and seared asparagus. To finish, spiral the tomato sauce on top.
TUSCAN BUTTER SALMON
8-ounce portion of skinless wild-caught salmon
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons of blended oil that has a high smoke point, such as vegetable or avocado oil
STEP 1 Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
STEP 2 Drizzle oil into a preheated skillet.
STEP 3 Season the salmon with salt and pepper.
STEP 4 Once the pan is smoking lightly, add the salmon on the far side of the pan — away from you to avoid burns. Once you see a crust forming, about three to five minutes, again flip it away from you and cook another three to five minutes.
STEP 5 Once a crust forms, remove the fish and put it in an oven-safe dish.
STEP 6 Bake about six minutes to desired temperature (Fitz prefers medium).
While the salmon is in the oven, turn the skillet burner down to medium and make the sauce.
For the sauce:
8 grape tomatoes
1⁄2 of a roasted red bell pepper, sliced (or use store-bought roasted peppers)
Handful of fresh baby spinach
1 ounce of minced garlic
1⁄2 cup of white wine
4 tablespoons of cubed butter
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons of heavy cream
STEP 1 Add the tomatoes and get a nice char on them. Add the roasted red peppers.
STEP 2 Once the tomatoes and peppers develop a nice color, place the garlic in the pan and saute for one minute.
STEP 3 Deglaze the pan with white wine, and let it reduce by half.
STEP 4 Add the butter. Once it’s melted, add the cream, and let it reduce by half.
STEP 5 Finish by adding the spinach and letting it wilt.