Recipe for a supremely decadent fish dish?
March 9, 2014 6:08 AM   Subscribe

My mum doesn't want to go out for Mothering Sunday, so I'm going to cook for her. I've even more reasons to be grateful to her for than usual this year, so I want to make some thing really special. I'm looking for tried and tested recipes for a supremely decadent fish or seafood dish. A couple of restrictions inside.

- She is allergic to all capsicums - so no red peppers, no chilli peppers and no paprika. Black pepper is fine.
- I'm a decent cook but nothing special - I can manage most things, but something extremely complicated or delicate is probably beyond me.
- Money is ok for me, so feel free to recommend expensive ingredients, but some pointers on where to source them would be helpful.
posted by Vortisaur to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
We hate fish but have to eat it often. I made this salmon in butter from Bittman and it was so good my husband ate half of it out of the pan. Serve with mashed potatoes or wild rice and a good salad on the side. I used just a big chunk of supermarket salmon. It's probably better with fancy salmon, but it was seriously good and easy to make.
posted by viggorlijah at 6:13 AM on March 9, 2014 [7 favorites]

Two fancy dishes that spring to mind immediately are Coquilles-St-Jacques and Bouillabaisse. But truly, what you make should depend on what is the freshest, most succulent fish you can find. Nothing beats a piece of very fresh fish perfectly cooked.
posted by Jode at 6:21 AM on March 9, 2014

The other day we had Skrej, an extra delicate, seasonal variety of cod, originating from Norway. It tastes less "fishy" than ordinary cod and has an even more pronounced flakiness, and if not overcooked, neither dryness nor translucent jelly-ness.

I simply took an enormous lump of high-quality butter (at least half a cup), heated it very slowly in a cast-iron Dutch oven of the proper size, let the foam thoroughly subside and then cooked the fish (skin-on fillet; salted on all sides) in one piece, skin down, lid on, until done. The water dripping off the lid braises the top half while the lower half and skin get very slightly browned and crisped by this process.
This requires a little watching and patience. Don't overcook, obviously, so you'll need to check what you're doing.
If you don't raise the temperature too much, you're rewarded with just the right nuttiness of the butter as a bonus. Add the juice of one fresh lemon about two thirds into the cooking process, and a twist of freshly-ground pepper at the end.
Quality-homemade-mash and a varied salad should to the rest of the trick. Drink a non-oaked Chardonnays (Chablis, for example).
posted by Namlit at 6:34 AM on March 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Sole meuniere tastes super decadent, but is a very simple dish. Dover sole is pretty expensive ($30+/lb), so you can splurge in that way (rather than getting other "sole" which is usually flounder -- if it is less than $20/lb it's probably flounder). Serve with roasted asparagus.
posted by melissasaurus at 6:45 AM on March 9, 2014

This Mustard-Roasted Fish from Ina Garten is delicious and certainly decadent.
posted by TrarNoir at 7:27 AM on March 9, 2014

This may not be fancy enough for you, but is very tasty:

1 lb. flounder filets, sole filets, or other mild white fish filets (ask at the fish counter)
3 Tablespoons butter (preferably unsalted), let soften
4 Tablespoons chopped shallots
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs (i.e. bread of your choice made into fine crumbs)
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 400 F (about 200 C)
Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper and roll each filet compactly.
Use 1 Tablespoon of the butter to grease baking dish to hold fish in one layer.
Sprinkle bottom of dish with salt and pepper, and 1 Tablespoon of the shallots.
Put fish rolls seam side down on the shallot layer, leaving a bit of space between each one.
Pour wine and cream over fish.
Sprinkle fish with bread crumbs, parsley, and remaining shallots.
Melt remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter and drizzle over fish.
Bake about 20 minutes until bread crumbs are lightly browned and fish is just cooked through.

Can serve with rice pilaf, or small roasted potatoes, and a salad or roasted or steamed asparagus or vegetable of choice.
posted by gudrun at 7:38 AM on March 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

You can't beat a really high quality piece of fish, simply cooked.

A thick cut of really fresh, really good salmon can provide a huge range of textures and flavors.

The hardest part of this "recipe" is finding the fish.

What you need:

A cast iron pan
a *little* butter and oil
an oven
some really good salmon

Call all the grocers and specialty food shops in your area, and find someone who has the freshest, thickest salmon steaks you can find.

Get the oven up to 350° and the cast iron pan hot. Open windows and get fans venting the air to the outside, or you're going to smoke up your kitchen.

Rub some salt, and if you want, paprika into both sides of the steaks. Hot up a very small amount of oil in the pan, and add a small amount of butter - try to get the fish into the pan before the butter burns.

Cook *just* long enough on the first side to get it brown and crispy, then flip.

After about 30 seconds flipped, move the pan from the heat into the oven.

I really have no idea how long you'll bake it for. Every 5 minutes or so I just stick my hand in and poke it to feel how done it is. I like it *just* warmed through on the inside, and if you do it right and get lucky, you wind up with this crispy outside, flaky mid-layer, and almost gooey inside.

It's magic.
posted by colin_l at 8:11 AM on March 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you have access to wild King / Chinook salmon (or high-quality farmed, such as Norwegian or Scottish), I would make something similar to colin above, but even simpler. I preheat the oven to 300F / 150C. I put about .4 lb. / 200g of salmon filet per person on a baking sheet. (The more marbled/striped with fat, the better.) I debone and dry the filet. Then I put some chopped herbs (parsley, chives, or basil, or none at all) on top with some olive oil and spread it around. Then it goes in the oven for about 16 minutes, but the best way is to put a temperature probe in the thickest part until it reads 117F / 47C. This is considerably below the USDA safe temperature for salmon; If you need to go by eye, the juices are clear, the flesh is firmer than raw but it's not starting to flake yet. The result is really magical, almost a custard texture and superb salmon flavor. Goes with almost any side, but I like to serve it on top of Caesar salad, which makes a temperature and texture contrast.
posted by wnissen at 8:52 AM on March 9, 2014

I really, really like fish- and seafood-based dishes; they're some of my favourite to come up with. I have a few ideas for you (recipes I've made in the past) but don't want to write them all out, so can you let me know which of these sound delicious to you?

Bouilliabaisse (super simple)

Scallops / corn puree / braised pork belly / lobster reduction / watercress (difficulty depends on how you are with searing scallops; a fair bit of prep work needed ahead)

Pan roasted halibut / montreal smoked meat and sunchoke hash / truffled Hollandaise / celeriac slaw (difficulty depending on how you are with pan-roasting)

Pan roasted salmon / potato, kale, tomato hash / citrus beurre blanc (again really the only difficult part is the fish)

Sabelfish / parsnip puree / rainbow beets / herb salad / Meyer lemon beurre blanc
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:02 PM on March 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

feckless fecal fear mongering - I'd love the sablefish and sides recipe, ditto the halibut.
posted by Vortisaur at 3:04 PM on March 9, 2014




2 x 6oz (170g) portions of halibut, skin on (or whatever size appeals to you, I usually go 5-6oz with fish portions). Go to a fishmonger or fish market, inspect the fish. Get them to cut two evenly-sized portions for you.

100g Montreal Smoked Meat, diced (if not available, corned beef--not from a can or pastrami will do fine. If none of the above are available, use guanciale, just render out the fat and add the meat back to the hash at the end).

300g sunchoke, peeled and diced same size as the meat. (peeling sunchokes is a fiddly process. Do it with a spoon, same as peeling ginger).

1 shallot, finely diced
150 ml white wine
80 ml white wine vinegar
4 egg yolks
200 ml clarified butter, warm
as much black truffle as you like, finely diced (I'd use only a hint here but if you want to go over the top, go big or go home I say)

- If you can't get black truffle, white is nice too. If you can't get either, go to a good high-end market and get good truffle oil--make sure the ingredients list is basically "Oil, truffles."

200g celeriac, grated or finely julienned
8-10 celery leaves
1 stalk chervil, picked into small sprigs
50mL white wine vinegar
5mL honey

olive oil
kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper
paprika (use smoked paprika if you are using unsmoked meat)

For the hash:

1) Cook the diced sunchoked in boiling, seasoned water until just barely tender. Drain. Chill uncovered in the fridge until surfaces are fairly dry--4-6 hours.

2) Over medium high heat, sautee the sunchokes with the meat and paprika until lightly browned. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the slaw:

1) Whisk honey and 50mL white wine vinegar in a nonreactive bowl. Add celeriac, marinate for 15 minutes. Drain, season to taste with salt and pepper.

2) Immediately before plating, toss celeriac with the celery leaves and chervil.

For the Hollandaise:

1) In a small pan, reduce the white wine and white wine vinegar to a syrup with the shallots.

2) Pour through a fine mesh sieve into a steel mixing bowl, allow to cool slightly, then beat in egg yolks.

3) Resting the bowl over a gently simmering double boiler, whisk the yolks vigorously until they become light and foamy.

4) Starting with a drop at a time, whisk in the clarified butter. As the emulsification stabilizes, you can add the butter faster. Don't stop whisking until the butter is all incorporated.

4) a) If your Hollandaise splits, remove it from the heat immediately and whisk in an ice cube or some very very cold water. Return to heat, beat in another egg yolk, and finish adding the butter. Rescued like this it won't hold for nearly as long as unsplit sauce.

5) Keep warm until you're ready to plate.

For the fish:

1) Season gently with kosher salt and black pepper.

2) In an oven-safe pan (cast iron or stainless steel, no nonstick or plastic), sear the halibut flesh side down over medium high heat in olive oil until golden. Don't mess about with the fish, it will release from the pan when it's ready. Flip so skin side is down, put pan in a 350F/175C oven.

3) Roast fish until medium-rare. Timing will depend on the thickness of your fish. It should still feel soft and springy, but not raw-soft. Halibut's lovely when it's a bit on the rare side anyway so don't worry.

4) Return the pan to medium heat on the stove and add 200g butter. As soon as the butter starts to melt, baste it over the fish, holding the pan at an angle over the heat so you can spoon the butter up from the bottom, uh, corner.

5) Do this until the fish is almost done--firmer, but still with a little give to it.

6) Remove fish from pan--usually the flesh will separate on its own from the skin at this point. If not, just peel it off. Blot the golden side of the fish with paper towel to soak up excess butter.

Plate however you like, really. Usually I'll scatter the sauce across the plate, use a ringmould for the hash, and place the fish on top. Place the slaw on top of the fish but be sure to leave some of the beautiful golden colour visible.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:28 PM on March 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


2x whatever size portions of sablefish.

1kg parsnips, peeled and sliced into relatively even pieces. No need to be fancy

1L 35% cream

1L homogenized/whole milk

3 sprigs thyme, 2 bay leaves, tied in cheesecloth

100g butter + 200g butter

8-10 small (golfball sized) beets of various colours, boiled, peeled, and quartered or sixthed
NB: cook different coloured beets separately

150mL Meyer lemon juice (5-6 lemons)
75mL white wine
1/2 small shallot, finely diced
60 chilled butter, cut into pieces
pinch sugar, optional

equal amounts of:

flat-leaf parsley, picked
chervil, picked
celery leaves
tarragon, picked

zest of 1/2 one Meyer lemon

olive oil

For the parsnips:

1) Place sliced parsnips in a saucepan, pour in enough milk and cream to just cover. Add the bay leavse & thyme in cheesecloth.

2) Bring to a simmer, cook parsnips until they are soft and tender

3) Strain parsnips, but reserve the cooking liquid

4) Working in batches if necessary, puree the parsnips with 100g butter and as much of the cooking liquid as you need to achieve a smooth but not runny consistency.

5) Season to taste with salt and pepper, reserve.

This recipe makes more than you need for one meal. Trust me, you will be eating this as a midnight snack if you're anything like me.

For the beets:

1) Toss the boiled, peeled, sliced beets very lightly with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast until heated through. Reserve.

For the fish:

1) Pan roast exactly as in the above recipe.

For the herb salad:

1) At the last minute, toss herbs and lemon zest with a few drops of olive oil, pinch of salt and pepper.

For the beuure blanc:

1) In a small sautee pan, reduce 150mL Meyer lemon juice and 75mL white wine with shallots until syrupy.

2) Remove from heat, and whisk in pieces of chilled butter one by one until you have a thick sauce.

3) Strain through fine mesh strainer to remove shallots. Whisk in a few drops of fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. If you find the sauce too acidic for your taste (Meyer lemons can vary in their sweet/acid balance), return to very gentle heat and whisk in more butter, or a tiny pinch of sugar to balance.

To plate:

1) Place a large dollop of the parsnip puree off-centre on a plate. Drag the back of a spoon through it to smear.

2) Scatter beets around the plate.

3) Fish in the centre. Drizzle a litle of the beurre blanc onto the fish, and some around the plate.

4) Generous portion of herb salad on top of the fish.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:29 PM on March 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh sorry, I realized I totally derped on the paprika. Disregard that bit. Sorry.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:59 PM on March 9, 2014

feckless fecal fear mongering - thank you for typing those out for me, and I'm well used to omitting paprika when cooking for my mother!
posted by Vortisaur at 2:41 AM on March 10, 2014

Does she prefer boneless filleted fish or does she like whole fish? If you have a good fishmonger ask if they can get you fresh anchovies. You prep the anchovies simply by pinching their heads and pulling backwards, which also guts them. Them fillet them by running your thumb nail along the spine. Presto: two mild flavored micro fillets connected by the tail. You can marinate them in salt and olive oil for a Mediterranean style starter or fry them crispy.
posted by zaelic at 5:35 AM on March 10, 2014

No problem, Vortisaur. I really should get around to actually posting recipes on my blog.

Regarding anchovies, they're lovely fried crisp. Even better are sardines. Get 'em whole and gutted. Shove some fennel and slices of lemon in the cavity, toss with olive oil, S&P. Put them on the grill/barbecue and just let them go. So very, very good. Not exactly decadent in the classic sense, but I think anything that makes you lick your fingers after is decadent, no?

Another option for a decadent meal is what my boyfriend and I do on a regular basis: a vaguely Mediterranean spread of lots of nibbly things. Olives. Hummus. Pomegranates. Figs sliced in half, wrapped in prosciutto, roasted, or straight up prosciutto and melon. Nice bread. Cheeses. Pate. Grilled vegetables. Grapes. (Again, if you need recipes, can do.)

And lots and lots of wine.

Spread everything out on a low table, put a movie on, recline and be absolutely decadent.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:27 AM on March 10, 2014

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