Fix-it-and-forget-it fish?
December 2, 2010 11:36 AM   Subscribe

I need a fish course for the middle of a 2+-hour holiday dinner. Please recommend delicious fish or seafood recipes that can be prepped a few hours ahead of time, and that don't require much fussing right before serving?

I'm looking for 1-2 fish or seafood dishes to serve in a family Christmas Eve dinner that follows the traditional Eastern European structure of 12 serial courses (i.e., each course is finished before the next is served). The dinner will be meatless, but otherwise I'm pretty flexible in terms of flavors/ethnicities/styles, because none of us are huge fans of the more orthodox cabbage- and beet-centric Christmas eve fare.

Because of the logistics of serial serving, I'm trying to choose dishes that can be mostly prepared at least an hour or two in advance of being eaten, and that don't require a ton of close attention-- for example, careful watching to test doneness-- right before they're served. Basically, I'm looking for things that can be made earlier, then slapped in a slow cooker or oven to keep warm until their moment in the meal arrives. But 99% of fish recipes seem to involve very brief cook times with lots of watching, and prompt serving thereafter. There'll be a soup course earlier in the meal, so fish stew is out.

Can anyone recommend any relatively low-maintenance, temporally flexible fish recipes for me to consider? It's a big dinner with picky eaters present, so bonus points for dishes incorporating fish that's fairly inexpensive and mild-tasting, like salmon, flounder, shrimp, tilapia, etc. Thanks so much!
posted by gallusgallus to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Shrimp cocktail is the old standby, but I prefer a Mexican Seafood Cocktail
posted by Seamus at 11:40 AM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hmm, how about a creamy macaroni and cheese dish with shrimp? Could be kept warm in the oven.
posted by Night_owl at 11:40 AM on December 2, 2010

Would ceviche be too exotic?
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:41 AM on December 2, 2010 [4 favorites]

Yes, what Seamus said; it benefits from being left to marry for a little while. A search term for you is "campechana".
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:43 AM on December 2, 2010

How about Fish Pie. If James May could do it better than Ramsay, you could too.
posted by hariya at 11:50 AM on December 2, 2010

Jacques Pepin has a recipe for oven-baked salmon with sun-dried tomato and salsa mayonnaise that I've made and enjoyed. It cooks low and slow - 200 degrees F for 45 minutes - and can be made an hour or two ahead (the sauce can be made the day before).
posted by dywypi at 12:10 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm a fan of two of the fish stew recipes on the site Simply recipes and have been known to incorporate them into my family's Polish Christmas Eve dinner (where there are restrictions on milk and cheese as well as meat). They both make great leftovers, so you could make them the day before and simply reheat.
posted by capsizing at 12:17 PM on December 2, 2010

escabeche. gravlax. caviar and sour cream stuffed into a boiled new potato.
posted by peachfuzz at 12:20 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Given that seafood is so vulnerable to overcooking, I'd avoid the "slapped in a slow cooker or oven to keep warm", and instead go with something served cold or room temperature using preserved or previously-cooked fish.

The classic dish of this sort is probably poached salmon, staple of buffets from time immemorial.

Or you could do a smoked salmon mousse, maybe? (Just be careful...)

Or maybe a salad? Like this tuna-and-white-bean salad or a salade nicoise (make sure you use the absolute best imported, packed-in-olive-oil tuna you can find)?
posted by dersins at 12:23 PM on December 2, 2010

Along the lines of hariya's idea - my mom makes crawfish pie for Thanksgiving every year. She does it the morning of, and it's able to sit for hours.

Crawfish tails are a little expensive, and unless you live in the US South they can be hard to find (Whole Foods and the like usually have them). But you may be able to substitute some other seafood that is more local to you. There seem to be a lot of seafood pies out there on the interwebs.

Ceviche would be a neat idea, too, and very elegant.
posted by Sara C. at 12:24 PM on December 2, 2010

Salmon steaks - place individual ones on a sheet of tin foil, dot with butter, season and add some diced onion|chilli|pepper|ginger whatever flavouring you feel might work for you. Loosely close the foil into a package and put in a 375° oven 25 minutes before you need them - if you take them out early, just leave them wrapped in their parcels until ready. You can do all the prep the night before.

You can even do this with frozen steaks - simply cook for 35 minutes.
posted by nicktf at 12:25 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

If it doesn't have to be served hot, you might consider some kind of chaud froid, such as a salmon mousse. The salmon-dill flavor might fit in with your Eastern European style.
posted by Hylas at 12:43 PM on December 2, 2010

Caviar with blini and sour cream obviously.
posted by JJ86 at 12:47 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

mmmmmmmMushrooms Neptune!
posted by peagood at 2:42 PM on December 2, 2010

I saw Jamie Oliver prepare this when he visited Stockholm. It looked amazing and I can't wait to do it this Christmas:

Amounts are for 1 large side of salmon, filleted and pin-boned.
Lay salmon fillet out on clingfilm and sprinkle evenly with:

8 tbsp sea salt
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp grated fresh horseradish (jar will work but not creamed)
2/3 med raw beetroots, grated
2 shots schnapps/vodka
5 tbsp chopped dill
Grated zest of 1 lemon

Wrap tightly in clingfilm and weigh down with bricks wrapped in foil/mineral water bottles/whatever and refrigerate for 48 hours.

Remove clingfilm and scrape curing mix from the flesh, then pat dry with kitchen towel.

Run a sharp knife between skin and flesh to de-skin then slice thinly. Serve with:

8 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
good grind of black pepper
good pinch of grated lemon zest
squeeze lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped dill
posted by WayOutWest at 3:21 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

You can cook Sea Scallops for an hour at 49 degrees celcius in a ghetto sous vide set up. Then just sear them for service.
You can really poach any sort of fish with a normal sous vide recipe from around the internet and get good results for what you're looking to do.
posted by JackarypQQ at 7:57 PM on December 2, 2010

Makes a lot, can be made well ahead / freezes excellently, and very lush but small, so useful with courses: Coquilles St. Jacques à la Parisienne (Scallops and Mushrooms in White Wine Sauce)
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1, pp. 216-217
posted by mimi at 6:46 AM on December 3, 2010

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