This wonderful garlic and lime sauce that drapes all over the fish and zucchini is the one of those marvels that truly makes this dish sing. I can think of a lot of great fish dishes, but this halibut and zucchini with garlic sauce is one of the very best you might find anywhere. Actually, it might also make a great fish taco too, but then, I’d want to think about that before I went too far. Nice idea, though.
The key is a sauce that is made up of a little butter, a little olive oil, some well-toasted garlic and a bit of lime juice. That’s it. But whether you’re talking about the zucchini or the halibut (other kinds of fish can work well), the sauce is simple and amazing at the same time. I learned this recipe from a book on Authentic Mexican, by Rick Bayless and Deann Groen Bayless, that I picked up at Frontera Grill, more than a few years ago. It’s called al Mojo de Ajo, which basically means garlic sauce.by
This dish is — a somewhat (probably not so flattering) take on something I saw in a cookbook called “The Laws of Cooking,” which I must point out has a great deal to say about how to break them, as well. The idea was a simple fish dish with nothing but a little fish, sweet potato, and chimichurri. Pretty simple, really.
And, of course, that was the one day any idea of mackerel didn’t bother to take it’s rightful place in the grocery shop, but hey, if you can get some good — and I do mean good — tilapia, or even some red fish, go for it. In any case, the really tough part of this dish (if you can call it so) is a really nice chimichurri, and that’s where I want to spend a little more time on this dish.by
This recipe for pan seared cod is the latest in a series of recipes in which I’ve been trying to develop and make use of wine-based broths made from single vegetables in conjunction with seafood. The experiments started with the grilled halibut in tomato broth recipe I posted a while back, and I’m not sure what’s next, but I’m discovering that these single vegetable broths are very versatile and make for some very pretty presentations.
The broths take some time to create, but they can be made a day or two ahead of time, so the prep time for the meal can be very short if necessary. The flavors in the broth are bright and concentrated and offer a perfect complement to the sweet umami rich flavors from the glaze on the fish.by
Like many recipes here at Discovery Cooking, it’s the result of mashing together several recipes from books and web sites, each of which had something I liked, but didn’t quite suit me, or had ingredients I couldn’t readily find. The goal was to come as close as possible to something I’ve had many times at my favorite Thai restaurant. Once in a while, this approach leads to unmitigated disasters and a quick trip to a local carryout. Not this time.
The prep for the recipe was quick and the actual cooking time was perhaps 20 minutes, so it also is great for a quick weeknight meal.
The only essential and perhaps difficult to find ingredient is the kaffir lime leaves. If you can get to an Asian grocery, they’re easy to obtain and increasingly they’re showing up in the spice sections of decent-size grocery stores. If you can get them fresh and you like more heat in the dish, one or two Thai chilies can be thinly sliced and added when you’re cooking the onions and bell pepper.by
It doesn’t happen often, but once in a while my local grocery’s fish counter will offer up walleye (or walleyed pike, if you prefer) fresh from the great lakes. It’s inexpensive as fish typically go, and it’s delicious, as well. As you can see from the photo, I got my hands on some beautiful walleye fillets recently and decided to give it a Mediterranean treatment, rather than the traditional deep fry. It was so tasty, I may never go back to deep-frying.
First, a bit about the fish. Walleye is a freshwater fish common to the upper midwest portion of the U.S. and southern Canada, including most of the Great Lakes. I got my first taste of walleye on a visit to Minnesota. More recently, I’ve been getting it on family visits to northwestern Ohio. The town of Port Clinton, Ohio, where my daughter lives, even has a walleye festival each spring. Walleyes get big, 20 lbs. or more, so the fillets from commercial fishing on the Great Lakes can be a pretty decent size, which means they’re fairly easy to cook. Walleye is very mild in flavor and has a texture much like a red snapper or similar white ocean-going fish.by
Sole Meuniere is very simple, classic French cooking. In fact, the dish is so simple, the most difficult task in a home kitchen is timing other parts of the meal to so that it all comes together at just the right time. For that reason, I often serve this one with just a salad, which can be prepared and plated before I begin working on the fish.
This also is a dish that requires a “mis en place” (having all ingredients, tools, etc. measured, prepped and ready to go before cooking starts). Once you start cooking the sole, you’ll barely have time to breathe. Seriously. Good fresh sole is very delicate. Cook it a little too long and it will turn into mush. Worse, the wild-caught sole we typically can get on the U.S. East coast tends to come in very small fillets, maybe six to eight inches long and no more than half an inch at the thickest part. So that means two or three per person, and searing the fish in batches.by
So… Not the best photos I’ve taken, but the fish… wow! Making branzino papillote was one of the best brainstorms I’ve had in a while. From here on in, it’s going to be my go-to way to make any smallish whole fish. I can’t wait to give this a shot with some fresh wild-caught rainbow trout.
A little background may be in order. The first time I had fish cooked in paper was many years ago in Mexico. Cancun, I think. I remember walking to the end of a pier to find the restaurant and I remember spotting a an entrée that was Red Snapper en Papillote. I also remember how cool it was to get a whole fish delivered to the table in a paper envelope and the steam that enveloped the table as the envelope was opened. The technique goes way back in French culinary tradition, so why I encountered it in Mexico remains a mystery, but it was one of those things I’d filed away in the “someday” category, as in “someday I’ll make that myself.” It took awhile, but here it is.by