Delicate Fish and Beurre Blanc

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This is a take-off on the traditional French beurre blanc. Now beurre blanc means white butter. Remember classic French cooking:

  1. Do Something
  2. Add butter

And then:

  1. Add butter
  2. Do Something

So – what the traditional beurre blanc does is make a rich reduction sauce out of something acidic and shallots. If we add heavy cream then it becomes a beurre nantais – named for the city of Nantes, located in the Loire-Atlantique area. As in where the Loire river dumps into the Atlantic Ocean. This is really not a big surprise since this whole beurre blanc business is characteristic of (and originates in) the Loire Valley area of France.

Normal method: dump some wine and some shallots in a heavy skillet and reduce over fairly high heat until about half volume and it becomes a bit syrupy. Add some acid – lemon juice or wine vinegar and reduce some more – until syrupy again. If heavy cream is used here is where it is added, heated, whisked and thickened. Off heat add chunks of butter whisking all the while.

You can vary this basic sauce with all kinds of interesting things. Here is a nice one for perking up the taste buds.

—–Marinade and fish:—–

2 fresh limes or about 2 Tbs lime juice
8 (6-ounce) mahi-mahi fillets
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup Tequila or booze of choice
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs butter

—–Orange Beurre Blanc Sauce:—–

1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs very finely chopped fresh
parsley leaves or 1/2 Tbs dried
4 Tbs (1/2 stick) butter, cut into 4 pieces

—–Marinade and fish:—–

You can use lemon juice in the place of the lime if you prefer. Either juice a couple of limes or just use lime juice from a bottle. Mix with the booze of your choice. Lime and tequila is sort of traditional for an Island sort of flavor. You want to use a fairly delicate fish like mahi-mahi, which used to be called dolphon before all the political correctness got out of hand. Tilapia or any other mild flavored fish will do well. Anyway, soak the fish in the marinade in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

—–Orange Beurre Blanc Sauce:—–

About 1/2 hour before you are ready to eat start the beurre blanc. Combine the orange juice and the wine (or white vermouth) in a heavy pan and reduce over high heat, whisking often, until the volume is reduced by half. If you use dried parsley add it in here. Add in the heavy cream and bring up to a low simmer. Whisk often as it reduces and thickens. Whisk in the parsley and set aside while you do the fish. Keep it warm but not hot.

Heat oil and butter until the butter sizzles and begins to color. Sear the fish on one side for about 3 minutes (skin side first if not skinless), turn and sear the other side for about 2 minutes. If the fish is not done turn down the heat and cook gently until done. Set aside while you finish the sauce.

If necessary heat the sauce until it will melt butter. Off heat whisk in the butter one tablespoon at a time. Return to heat briefly as necessary to incorporate all the butter. Too cool and you can’t get the butter to melt and incorporate. Too hot and it will separate. Keep in between the two extremes and your sauce will be wonderful.

Spoon the sauce all fish and serve while it is hot.

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