Help Making Potato-Crusted Fish
We had dinner last night at a restaurant that offered a potato-crusted halibut. It was delicious, and I'd like to recreate it at home, with help from fellow Chowhounds.
The halibut filet (I imagine it could be sea bass or something else) was wrapped with thin slices of what looked like small red or fingerling potato. It was crispy outside, but the fish was moist.
I'm guessing the procedure was to:
- very thinly slice fingerlings on a mandoline/Benriner
- lay out the sliced potatoes "shingle-style" on saran wrap, then place the filet on top
-wrap the saran around the fish (ala Michel Richard), and refrigerate to hold.
But from there, I'm baffled:
- Would this be pan-fried, using tongs to get all 6 sides crusty? Wouldn't that disturb/peel off the potato slices?
- Would this have been brushed with olive oil and roasted in the oven?
-How could the chef know when the fish was done if it was covered with potato.
I was expecting to be excoriated for this post, but I see it has been mentioned already. After trying and failing at this for several years, I read about, and tried, the dehydrated potato flake trick. It worked. The stuff may make revolting "mashed potatoes", but it makes a beautiful and quite tasty crust on thin fish fillets or pounded chicken supremes.
Season the potatoes well with salt, pepper, and whatever else. Dip the protein in milk, buttermilk, eggs, or a combination. Dredge the protein in the potato flakes. Saute in clarified butter until golden.
(It is rumoured that said chef also uses Tang, and not dehydrated/powdered orange zest, to create intense "orange" flavours.)
jfood made this dish many years ago and does not fully remember all the fine poins but here it what he remembers from waaaay deep in memory.
- used a side of fish not a filet; potatoes on one side only
- did not par boil potatos
- could figure out how the thin slices would stick but jfood guesses the starch from the potatoes had a lot to do with it.
- cooked in an oblong nonsick with a little evoo and the when the potato side was browned and cooked through flipped carefully
- finished in oven, potato side up and then plated from there.
- needed a good sprinkling of salt to give the potaties a good zip.
the jfood really liked it.
That' sabout what jfood remembers.
I would think a larger potato, like a full-size red, would work better (fewer "shingles"), at least until you get a feel for the method.
Speaking of wrapping halibut, I wrapped some filets in prosciutto recently and pan-roasted it. The flavors were outstanding, but we had this problem where we kind of mashed into the fish while trying to cut through the prosciutto crust. I imagine potatoes would be easier to cut through than crispy prosciutto, but i would try to make sure it doesn't over-crisp lest you experience my mushing problem.
The par-boiling and/or pre-sauteing ideas also seem to have added advantage of preventing the potatoes from turning brown.
And the milk and seasonings should also help keep the fish moist and make it all stick together.
Also, I recall that Michel Richard sometimes will mix steamed shredded potatoes in a little unflavored gelatin and butter before he refrigerates them. Perhaps it's worth trying that with the sliced potatoes, and spreading them out on saran, placing the fish on top, wrapping and refrigerating it all.
I'll do some experimenting in the near future and will report back.
In a 2002 NY Times article, a certain top chef cheats by laying fish fillets in milk, then coating them with dehydrated potato flakes (the instant mashed-potato stuff).
In a long-ago thread a chowhound suggests soaking the fish in buttermilk and seasonings, then doing the dehydrated potato coating.
I'm thinking the potato may well have been par-boiled before being sliced. Then wrapped as you describe and brushed with oil all over. I'm also guessing that they browned one side of the fish, flipped it and put it in a very hot oven which would brown the potatoes on all sides. By the time the potatoes are browned nicely, the fish will be cooked.....that's just a cooking faith thing.
If cut very thin the potatoes will not need to be par-boiled to be done but it will help to make them stick. I've done a similar dish but made a potato "pancake" by layering ultra thin slices of potatoes in a non-stick skillet and browning on one side then flipped it and laid two cod fillets on the browned pancake and slipped it into a hot oven. The juices from the fish meld into the potatoes and it comes out wonderful. The potatoes are brown and crusty. I remove the fish and cut the pancake into wedges and serve with the fish on top. The potato crusted fish recipe sounds great. Let us know how it came out and if you had any trouble with the potatoes sticking to the fish.