Dolled-Up Fish

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Here are three different ways to treat any fish – but it works better with stronger fish like cod than it does with more delicate species.

All start with seared or sautéed fish – depending on your preference. 

Thyme+Thyme

Thyme+Thyme (Photo credit: jimforest)

—–Fish—–
 1  Tbs  extra-virgin olive oil or unsalted butter or both
 4  (6-ounce) center-cut fish fillets, skin left on
 Salt and freshly ground black pepper
 4  cloves garlic, lightly crushed
 4  sprigs thyme or 1 tsp. dried
 1  Tbs  unsalted butter

—– Fish —–

Lube a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Season the fish with salt and pepper and put them into the pan, skin side down, along with the garlic and thyme. Sear the fillets for 3 minutes, turn them over and sear for 3 minutes more. Lower the heat, add the butter and cook another 3 minutes. Adjust time and temperature as necessary for the thickness and species you have. For searing cook hot and fast – you don’t want it burned but rather seared and dark looking. Sauté – use a lower heat and cook more gently as long as needs be to get the fish done and a nice golden surface.

—– Garnishes —–

You actually want to start the garnish ahead or at the same time as the fish so that the fish does not sit around waiting (and deteriorating!).

Make one of the following:

     —–Bordelaise Garnish—–
 2  Tbs  unsalted butter
 1/2  cup  finely chopped shallots
 12  oz  sliced mushrooms
 2  sprigs  thyme or ½ tsp. dried
 1/2  bottle  dry red wine
 —–Plate—–
 6  sprigs  parsley finely chopped or dried to taste

—–Bordelaise Garnish—–

Lube a large skillet over medium-high heat with the butter. Add the shallots and gently sauté about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and thyme and cook 5 more minutes. Add the wine and boil rapidly until the liquid is reduced by half. Discard the thyme if you used fresh sprigs. One of the small individual serving size bottles they sell in the local groceries works quite well for a half recipe, or two for the full. You don’t want to spill this stuff on your clothes or the tablecloth. You will notice that the wine reduces to a wonderful purple thick sauce that would stain any fabric rather fiercely.

—–Plate—–

Pour the garnish over plates and top with the fish. Sprinkle parsley to taste.

OR

     —–Dijonnaise Garnish—–
 1-1/2  lbs  carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
 1-1/2  lbs  spinach, washed and stemmed
 1  Tbs  unsalted butter
 Salt and freshly ground white pepper
 —–Coating for Fish—–
 2  Tbs  Dijon mustard
 1  cup  fresh bread crumbs
 2  Tbs  minced chives
 1  Tbs  extra-virgin olive oil
 —–Plate—–
 6  sprigs  parsley finely chopped or dried to taste

—–Dijonnaise Garnish—–

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the carrots and cook for 5 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for 1 minute more; drain well and squeeze the excess water from the spinach. It is ok to use a package of frozen spinach – just thaw and dump it in for a minute (do squeeze the excess water first). Lube a heavy skillet with the butter, heat about medium.  Add the carrots and spinach and season with salt and pepper. Cook until well coated with the butter. Stir fairly often. Keep warm. Frozen spinach is much easier – fresh is prettier and more of a hassle. Take your choice.

A 1-liter glass bottle and bowl Bertolli brand...

A 1-liter glass bottle and bowl Bertolli brand Riserva Premium extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil from Italy, Greece, Spain, and Tunisia, and bottled and packed in Italy. Olive oil purchased in a Stow, Ohio store. Photographed in Kent, Ohio, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Preheat the broiler so it is ready when the fish is ready. Coat the fish with the mustard. Mix the bread crumbs, chives and EVOO and spread or pat to cover the fish. Broil until the bread crumbs are pretty and golden brown. It doesn’t take much – you must remember that the fish is already cooked.

—–Plate—–

Pour the garnish over plates and top with the fish. Sprinkle parsley to taste.

OR

     —–Lyonnaise Garnish—–
 3  Tbs  extra-virgin olive oil
 1-1/2  lbs  potatoes, peeled and cubed about  1/2”
 1-1/2  lbs  sweet onions, cubed about 1/2”
 Salt and freshly ground pepper
 2  Tbs  red wine vinegar
     —–Plate—–
 6  sprigs  parsley finely chopped or dried to taste

—–Lyonnaise Garnish—–

Lube a heavy skillet with the olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and cook, turning frequently, for 10 minutes. Watch the heat – you don’t want to scorch them. Lower the heat, add the onions, salt and pepper, and cook until the onions are translucent and the potatoes are tender, about 5 to 10 minutes more. Add the vinegar and boil until it has reduced to a thick syrup. Yukon Gold potatoes are good. You can really use any kind you like. You can leave the skins on if that suits your taste – try it both ways and see which you like best.

—–Plate—–

Pour the garnish over plates and top with the fish. Sprinkle parsley to taste.

Alternate suggestions for plating:

Try warming the plates before serving – it adds a nice touch. (That’s warm – not hot.)

If you are doing a buffet or serving at the table you can pour the garnish over a serving platter and top with all the fillets. Then sprinkle with parsley until it looks nice.

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