March 2009/July 2012 COTM Fish Without a Doubt: Baking & Roasting, Searing & Sautéing, Frying
**March 2009 Cookbook of the Month** is Fish Without a Doubt by Rick Moonen and Roy Finamore.
Please post your full-length reviews of recipes for baking and roasting, searing and sautéing, and frying here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.
A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.
Thanks for participating!
Baked Scallops (page 217) with
Porcini Butter (page 410)
Quoting JoanN from http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/584841:
"I made a half recipe of the Porcini Butter. You combine softened butter with dried porcini powder, truffle oil, sherry vinegar, and S&P, set it aside to mellow for an hour, then refrigerate. He doesn’t say to, but I rolled it into a log knowing I’d be using only a small amount and would want to freeze the rest.
"Smear softened Porcini Butter on a gratin dish, put in scallops, smear more porcini butter on top, sprinkle with bread crumbs, and bake at 450F for 10 minutes."
After JoanN and LulusMom raved about this recipe, it was on my 'to make' list for sure since I adore scallops. I should have looked at their pictures, though, since I was sure mine had gone terribly wrong when I opened the oven and could still see lumps of the porcini butter on the scallops. I had imagined the butter smeared on top would all melt and be bubbly, but only the porcini butter smeared on the bottom of the dish melted. Also, I couldn't manage to 'smear' even soft butter on the scallops, but ended up putting dollops on each instead. Which appears to be what they did too.
My take: the flavors were great and the scallops were cooked beautifully. I gave them 10 minutes, then another 2 minutes (after checking and being dubious about the lumps of unmelted better), then let them rest a few minutes while plating the rest of the dinner.
However, it was definitely more butter than I wanted to eat. And I really didn't like having the lumps of butter on top of the scallops. I served out the scallops with their lumps of butter then saved the melted butter remaining in the dish for another use (I'm thinking eggs!).
What I think I'll try next time, is use only half the butter called for, melt it in advance, brush it on the dish, place the scallops in the dish, then drizzle the remaining butter over the scallops and sprinkle with the bread crumbs.
No pictures, but they pretty much looked like theirs. I served mine with plain black rice which was great for mixing with the porcini butter.
I made the scallops with basil-sundried compound butter and the same thing happened to me. The butter just sat on the top of the scallops and did not melt at all. My butter was room temperature, so I thought 450F should melt it. When I saw the lumps at the end of 10 minutes, I gave it 2 extra minutes under the broiler, but that din't melt the butter either. I should have melted the butter as you suggested, but its too late now.
Also I don't think this was a great combination, atleast for us. The scallops and tomato-basil-butter did not compliment each other.
Baked scallops with sun-dried tomato butter p.217
As I reported in that section, I love this butter, a great combination of sun-dried tomatoes, basil and garlic. This made the dish for me. My scallops were big, meaty sea scallops and they held up to the flavors well. My butter melted fine but I had just made it that day and it hadn't been chilled which may have made the difference. The breadcrumbs on the top added a nice crunch.
Very curious why the butter melts for some of us but not for others. Jane, I used mine immediately after making it, so chilling wasn't a factor. I was going to blame the porcini powder, but cpw had the problem with the sun-dried tomato version. I wonder if some of our powdered materials are drier than others so that they suck up anything that melts? Or somehow raise the melting temperature, since for me the butter that was directly on the baking dish melted, but not the butter lumps on the scallops.
Baked Scallops with Sun Dried Tomato Butter
This was my second time cooking seafood period (first time was the Shrimp Scampi), and man did these come out nicely. The cooking directions for the scallops were really clear and they came out really nicely. The Sun-Dired Tomato Butter was also an excellent pairing with the Scallops as well.
My only negative, like Karen, was that the Butter was touch to spread and a bit lumpy, but it was tasty enough that it was worth it.
Baked Scallops with Basil Butter, p. 409.
My turn for this easy and quick recipe, which has been well-described above. My sea scallops were quite large, so I halved them, and they cooked through in the 10 minutes the recipe directed-also as directed, I let them sit off-heat for a few minutes before serving.
The change I made in the recipe was to use the basil compound butter on p. 409, rather than the suggested sun-dried tomato or porcini butter, and I really liked the way the basil-garlic-butter flavor worked with the scallops. I had some left over from another recipe--about 3 TBs--so I cut the refrigerated butter into 1/4 inch pieces, placed about 1 TB of the pieces in the bottom of the pan, and scattered the other 2 TBs over the scallops underneath a blanket of dried breadcrumbs. The butter melted very satisfactorily! Don't know why it worked better than other folks' results. I did place the gratin dish pretty close to the top of the oven, watching carefully to be sure the crumbs didn't burn. I was ready to place a piece of foil over them if they seemed to brown too much before the scallops were cooked through, but didn't need to this time. Perhaps having the scallops so close to the heating element made the butter melt so well. Also, I was only using half the recommended 6 TBs that the original recipe asked for. It seemed like plenty to us.
Anyway, we felt the the simplicity of the basil butter flavored only with garlic and s & p, was a nice
complement to the scallops which let their sweetness shine through.
Mr. Goblin loved it and didn't even ask for tartar sauce like he usually does with scallops.
Sautéed Char with Hoisin Glaze and Wasabi Butter Sauce, Pg. 238
This is a 4 part recipe and here's the order in which I made it:
1. Wasabi Butter Sauce
2. Hoisin Sauce
3. Wilted Cabbage
4. Sautéed Char
1. Wasabi Butter Sauce, Pg. 406:
To the Basic Butter Sauce on pg. 402 the following ingredients are added:
2 T Wasabi powder( I love this stuff!) moistened with 3 t dry vermouth, to make a paste. The wasabi paste is added the butter sauce and "zapped with an immersion blender." Keep it on a back burner till needed. (Yum)
2. Hoisin Glaze, Pg. 439:
The following ingredients are stirred together in a small bowl:
2 T hoisin sauce, juice of 1/2 lime, 1 t honey, 1 pressed garlic clove, 1 T minced fresh cilantro. After combining, season with a bit of Kosher salt. (Yum Yum)
3. Wilted Cabbage, Pg. 452
One of the suggested side dishes to be used under the fish...
Olive oil, shredded Savoy cabbage, 4 thinly sliced scallions, 2 t soy sauce, 1 t water are stir-fried for 30 seconds. The soy and water are added and all is stir-fried till the cabbage wilts. (Ho Hum.)
4. Sautéed Char, Pg. 439:
I had to substitute swordfish, one of the alternatives suggested.
Each piece of fish is seasoned on both sides with salt and pepper and the skin side is lightly dusted with flour. (I used one pan for 2 pieces, if you're cooking 4 pieces per the recipe use 2 skillets.) The directions are rather specific for cooking the fish:
heat a skillet over high heat, add olive oil, add the fish with floured side down, reduce heat to medium, press down on fish with a spatula to hear the sizzle which tells you that a crust is being formed. Then add a T of butter to the pan. When the butter melts, baste the fish and cook for 3 minutes. When the fish is almost cooked through turn over and turn off the heat. The fish sits for about 30 seconds then is transfered to paper towels.
5. To serve:
Place a portion of the Wilted Cabbage in the center of plate, set a piece of fish on top, brush the fish with the Hoisin Glaze, pour over the Wasabi Butter Sauce. Pour a great big glass of Gewürztraminer and enjoy!!
We liked it very well. While I do not like overly sweet food, I thought this was not too sweet. The wasabi butter was fantastic! Perhaps I focused on that and perhaps I didn't brush on as much hoisin sauce as Joan did. I didn't read her report. It must be in the separate thread?????
Yes, in the other thread.
And a different recipe. The one I made was grilled, not sauteed, and no Wasabi Butter, which I'm sure I would like a great deal and might make all the difference.
Although frankly, considering that I don't think I've ever liked any sweet element with fish, I'd probably like it a lot better with just the Wasabi Butter.
I made the arctic char for lunch today and I am glad I did, it was very delicious!
I had few substitutions:
I made the butter sauce in food processor which is little tricky, but it worked (Processed it before adding the butter). Maybe the texture would have been better if I used the immersion blender, but since I have nothing to compare to, I liked it. I could'nt get myself to add 1 stick of butter, so I stopped at 3/4th. Also I added the jarred wasabi instead of the powder one.
In the hoisin glaze, I did not add the honey, as I got scared of the sweetness (isssue raised by LulusMom-thank you). I tasted the pre honey version and it tasted absolutely delicious-really yummy stuff.
I served with brussel sprouts, sauted as she suggests, and with roasted beets from sunday suppers.
This was the first time we had arctic char and I not sure any recipe will top this one for this fish.
I made this dish and we loved it. I only made half portions of the hoisin glaze and wasabi butter sauce. I should have read the earlier reports about the hoisin glaze. When I did a quick taste, I found it a bit too sweet (shouldn't have added the honey). However, I added more lime juice and it became more palatable to me. Also, I added the full amount of cilantro as well.
The wasabi butter was fabulous - and my wasabi powder wasn't the freshest. Next time, I may add more to give it more of a kick. But, the reason why it went so well was the contrast of silky spicy wasabi butter to the mildly sweet cilantro hoisin glaze.
On top of that, the searing technique was fabulous. I used char and the skin was incredible. While I had great success roasting the fish to get it crispy, this was the first time I used fish that had the skin on it, and it was even better (it was kind of hard for me to fathom since I loved the roasting as well).
I also agree with Gio about the wilted cabbage. If I had known earlier, I would have used the other cabbage recipe. This was just an ok recipe and I upped the soy sauce for more flavor. In its defense though, the cabbage may have tasted better if I followed the instructions on plating - to place the fish and sauce over the cabbage. I had it on the side so it didn't get as much buttery fishy goodness as it should have.
Regardless, this was a marvelous recipe. And, the bonus was that it looks and tastes more complicated than it was. At first, I was put off bc the recipe kept sending me to other recipes. But, putting together the sauces took very little time in all and it was well worth the effort.
ETA: for the wasabi butter sauce, when I first tasted it, I was disappointed, then I realized I didn't add salt to it. Whoa, what a difference. Jfood notes the same below.
Note to self: re-read threads before shopping and cooking.
I made this with striped seabass last night and we both just loved it. I though the sauteeing techinque was wonderful, and the fish was perfectly done, though I did cook it slightly longer as my filets were bigger and thicker. That glaze is delectable. I had decided to serve it with bok choy before even having read the recipe (I knew I wanted to make that glaze), but just cut it into pieces and sauteed on high heat with peanut oil and garlic cloves. I didn't make the wasabi butter, but will next time, as my husband loves wasabi.
I made this tonight with some Wild Alaskan salmon. I kept the skin on the fish. Another new way to cook fish [I am really starting to love this book] that is quick, easy and results in delicious fish with great texture.
I made two changes.... no honey in the hoisin glaze and no wasabi butter. I served it with Cradle of Flavor Bok Choy with garlic and peppers and some jasmine rice. The bok choy was a great counterpoint to the sweetness of the hoisin glaze. This was a surprising dinner that we both enjoyed.
Sauteed Char with Hoisin Glaze and Wasabi Butter Sauce, page 238
Should have read my own notes! Found some lovely wild salmon at Costco today. Back home, I chose this recipe [again, evidently.] Tonight we found it a bit too sweet though we didn't have the wasabi butter. Omitting the honey would have worked, or increasing the lime. but I served it with dry-fried green beans which had a very savory, spicy sauce, so it was all very delicious.
I just made this, as my first recipe from the book. What a great recipe! I was at first a little put off by all the 'redirects' to other sauce recipes. But they were so very simple, and the whole thing came together in no time. Only salmon was available from my market, so that is what I used. Not normally a fan of 'sweet and savory', I scaled back the honey to be added to the hoison sauce.
I made the butter sauce first and it was divine. Didn't even want to add the wasabi ( even though I love wasabi) for fear of corrupting it... but I did, just to faithful to the recipe.
Still recovering from extreme exhaustion, so just served this over salad greens. When I'm more energetic, I'll make the suggested accompaniment of sauteed bok choy or cabbage.
Also, my mom and sister are gluten intolerant ( I'm not, but I try to be prudent) so I skipped using the flour when searing the fish - this was not an issue for me at all.
To mitigate any unwanted sweetness, I squeezed some extra lime and added a dash of soy sauce ( rather than salt) to the wasabi butter sauce.
Overall this was very, very good. I enjoyed it tremendously and would definitely make it again. What's more - my mind is spinning with ideas for using the separate components in other ways. And I foresee many other uses for the butter sauce - it was so, so delicious.I froze the leftover and will use in good time.
I'm very glad I bought this book!
Can't wait to try more recipes....
Couple things that we learned which might be helpful
If the fish is in the fridge, make sure you let it sit out for an hour or two so the center is the same temp and the edges otherwise it will not cook in the center at the same pace as the edges
Don't press the flour into the skin just lightly dust it or you can get too much flour on the skin and it can burn (the flour not the fish skin)
Great recipe, try to get the good hoisen from the asian store vs the stuff safeway etc carries that makes a big difference - i dont think the hoisen is too sweet, but we love sweet and spicy - we did put the hoisen sauce on the side not directly on the fish so we could each control how much of the sauce we wanted
The butter sauce we poured / cooked with the bok choy and that gave it really great flavor - i liked the butter sauce seperate with the bok choy vs with the fish, as we butter sauted the fish to cook it in the pan
The Gewurztraminer wine goes really well with it, much better than the Chablis i tried, although it was a very good Chablis - not for this dish
Arctic Char could be our new favorite fish, it was our first time having it, and we felt it was better than a lot of restaurants we go do, and we did it at home - would highly recommend this dish and arctic char
Sautéed Char with Hoisin Glaze and Wasabi Butter Sauce, p. 238
I made this with sockeye salmon, skipped adding honey or salt to the hoisin sauce (plenty sweet already!), and didn't make the wasabi butter sauce. The hoisin sauce was tasty though a bit overwhelming to the salmon. I wonder if it would work to stir some wasabi powder into the hoisin sauce? I just couldn't bring myself to make a separate sauce, but I think it needs that pungent contrast.
Question: Those of you who have used this sauteeing technique with skin-on fish, do you serve the fish skin up? I brushed the hoisin sauce on the flesh side, so I left that side up. Then the skin on the bottom turned soggy with the juices, so we didn't eat it after all. But it didn't make sense to me to spread the hoisin sauce on the crispy skin either. The flesh was beautifully cooked, at least.
Served it with roasted gold zucchini and filet beans, which made for a lovely meal (sorry, no pix). Also, his "Mom's Cucumber Salad" which I complain about vigorously in another thread.
Sauteed Swordfisn with Hoisin sauce, p. 238.
My turn for this method and sauce (Hoisin, anyway.) I had the freshest, sweetest swordfish steaks, caught this morning, slightly pink in color and arriving from the Cape Cod Fish Share CSA already skinned. I decided to try the FWAD sautéing method this time (my last foray with swordfish was the broiling method on p. 129.) This method was equally good and easy. Basting with the hot butter (which became browned) helped to cook the fish and gave good flavor; I also think the instructions to blot the cooked fish on paper-towels briefly before serving was a good idea. It blotted up the extra browned butter and to my taste, made the fish just a bit "healthier."
I only made the Hoisin glaze on p. 439, since my husband is not a particular fan of wasabi. The glaze was just delicious. I didn't find it to be too sweet, perhaps because my squeezed half-lime was particularly plump! My admittedly simpler version of this recipe was light and satisfying and very quick to prepare. And Mr. Goblin said it was some of the best fish he ever had! I'll make the glaze again.
Sautéed (Salmon) with Hoisin Glaze, p. 238
I didn't make the wasabi butter sauce, just did the (wild sockeye salmon in my case) and hoisin glaze. My fillets were skinless, but I went ahead and floured the skin side. This is an interesting technique, in that you really do see the fish cooking from the bottom up, as he says. And blotting the cooked fish really absorbs a lot of butter, so I didn't need to feel unvirtuous about it. Anyway, I thought it turned out very well. The sweetness of the hoisin glaze worked well with the salmon.
Mackerel with Puttanesca and Potatoes, Pg. 216
Another multi part recipe. Here's the order in which I cooked:
2. Puttanesco Sauce
3. Parsley/ Garlic Breadcrumbs
4. Assemble dish & bake
1. Small red potatoes are peeled, boiled till just tender, drained then sliced.
I did not peel, but sliced and steamed them.
2. Puttanesca Sauce, Pg. 430
Cook 1 cup chopped onion in hot olive oil for about 7 minutes. (I used about 2 cups sliced leeks because I wanted to use them up). The recipe calls for 1/4 cup chopped garlic but given past experience with the amount of recommended garlic I chopped 4 cloves. A small tin of anchovies and a "good pinch of crushed red pepper" are added to the pot and all is cooked till the anchovies are melted. Add 3 cups of chopped tomatoes 1/2 cup sliced Kalamata olives and 1/4 cup drained capers. The heat is reduced and the sauce is simmered for 15-ish minutes or till "thick and fragrant." (I could not find the jar of capers I *knew* was in the pantry so I poured about 2 T of red wine vinegar into the tomato can and swished it around a bit then added it to the sauce). This sauce was delicious and I can see using it for just about anytime a spicy red sauce is wanted.
While the sauce is cooking make the bread crumb mixture by chopping a bit of parsley to make 2 T, press 2 cloves of garlic and add in a small bowl along with 2 t olive oi.
4. Assemble and Bake:
Although the recipe calls for 4 6 - 7 oz. of Mackerel fillets, which have been at the market every time I've gone for the last 300 years, there was None so I boughtTilapia, 6 small fillets.
So.... preheat oven at 450. Oil the bottom of gratin dishes, one for each serving....
I used a 9" X 9" casserole dish. Place the sliced potatoes on the bottom and drizzle with
4 T dry vermouth.
Season the fish with salt & white pepper. Lay the fish on top of the potatoes and cover all with the Puttanesca sauce. Sprinkle the crumbs over all and set in oven to bake for about 12 minutes.. I think we went for 15 min.
This dish was very tasty and we liked it very much. I could not detect the vermouth. I suppose it's because the potatoes absorbed it, but the sauce is so full of flavor that became the predominate taste. Frankly, I can see the potatoes and the sauce used alone or with simple sauteed chicken breasts then finished en casserole in the oven.....Oh - or even grilled eggplant in the middle... maybe.
I had some problems with the Mackerel (Bluefish)with Puttanesca and Potatoes. (Not the taste of it; it tasted great). First, I didn’t precook my potatoes long enough and second, I didn’t cut the bluefish fillet in half and make it in separate gratin dishes as he recommends so it was a real mess to serve. Because the puttanesca sauce and bread-crumb topping covers everything, I couldn’t see to cut the fish into two servings. I’m guessing Gio didn’t have this problem with the tilapia fillets since they were skinless and probably broke apart easily when cut into.
This recipe is somewhat similar to a recipe from James Peterson, Baked Whole Sea Bass with Potatoes, that’s a standard at my house. Peterson layers uncooked potatoes with thyme, garlic, olive oil and S&P and bakes them for 20 minutes to get a head start on the fish. I think I’m going to use that technique for this recipe just because it’s always worked for me before, it uses one less pot, and it gets a lot more flavor directly into the potatoes. Instead of a full-blown puttanesca sauce, Peterson just puts the fish on top of the potatoes and arranges chopped tomatoes and olives around it. There’s no anchovies, no capers, and no bread-crumb topping as with Moonen, but the Peterson recipe is for a milder fish. .The much more assertive puttanesca was just perfect with the bluefish—a real winner of a combination. I was out of bread crumbs so I used panko and I did like the added crunch as well as the additional hit of garlic.
Since I don’t have individual gratin dishes, what I’ll probably do next time I’m making two servings is cut the potatoes much thinner and cook them a la Peterson for 20 minutes before making two separate mounds of potatoes, fish, sauce, and topping in a single baking dish so I can lift out an entire serving with a spatula.
I couldn’t detect the vermouth, either, Gio. And I was disappointed since I’d bought some specifically for this dish. And I agree, too, that you could probably substitute sautéed or baked chicken breasts with excellent results.
IIRC, I placed the fillets across the baking dish, not lengthwise. Therefore I didn't have any trouble serving. Also, you seem to have had more breadcrumbs than I did. I reread my post and I see that I didn't write the quantity in the recipe, But more of the sauce showed in my baking dish... guess I was stingy with the crumbs. We live about 4 hours north of you but won't see Bluefish in the market till summer!!
I hate to admit it to You, Joan, LOL... but I have the Peterson book too and now after your description I have to try the recipe for Baked Whole Sea Bass.
Ah. That makes sense. I just had one big hunk of bluefish and plunked it down in the center of the potatoes. I just wasn't thinking the whole thing through.
As for quantities, I must say I was pretty much eyeballing everything rather than measuring, but I only made half a cup of crumbs for half the recipe so the proportion of crumbs to fish and sauce should have been about right. I think, though, that stingy might be more than enough and will make a note in the book to halve the bread-crumb topping next time.
I bought the bluefish yesterday from the fisherman who caught it and he told me they're just beginning to see them. He said he'd caught only two so far. So I'm sure you're right that it will be a while before we see it in the markets.
That Peterson recipe has been a go-to for me for longer than I can remember. I love that it's a quick and easy one dish meal and I can always get the ingredients at the last minute. Helps, too, that my BF from London loves it so I make it for him whenever he comes to visit. Hope you like it as well.
Broiled Fish Fillets with Butter and Herbs (pg. 122)
We liked this very much but I had some very slight technical difficulties in making the dish. I used very thin flounder fillets and had enough for three servings. So, I slightly modified the amounts of butter and herbs.
It's a pretty easy recipe: chop herbs (parsley and chives) and melt butter in separate dishes. Dip the fish into the butter and sprinkle herbs on top. Lastly, sprinkle bread crumbs (I used panko) and broil.
My problem was that my fish fillets were still too cold. So, when I dipped the fillets into the butter, it immediately congealed on the fish and the resting plate. When I lifted the fillet into the pan, most of the butter on the bottom of the fillet, stayed on the plate. Regardless, it was delicious.
I really liked the preheating the pan under the broiler. I used a flat cast iron skillet and don't know why I don't do this more often. After all, this is the Zuni roast chicken way. But, slight technical difficulty here too. After placing the fillet into the skillet, the whole thing started smoking. I put the skillet under the broiler for under two minutes which was still too long. There was slight sticking to the pan but I easily scraped the crispy bits off. My second batch, for about a minute, didn't stick and was perfect.
Overall, I enjoyed this dish and it was a quick easy dinner.
I'm loving this book, but if I got nothing from it other than the preheat-the-pan-under-the-broiler method of broiling fish it would have been worth the price of admission. I've only done it so far with skin-on fillets, and the crispy fish skin is as much a revelation as the chicken skin is in Zuni.
I had some difficulty with the bread crumbs burning ( http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5848... ). Doesn't sound as though you did. I, however, didn't have the smoking problem, and both times I tried this I let the cast iron skillet heat up under the broiler for the full 15 minutes he recommends. I imagine it's all just a question of getting to know your broiler and getting to know your pan. But it's well worth it. I doubt I'll ever use another method for broiling fish ever again.
I did the full 15 minutes and probably then some. I think the smoking thing if because I have some kind of oil (either butter or olive) on the bottom of the fillet before placing it into the pan. The sear is intense. And, I've used skinless fillets, but damn, that crunchy stuff is so good.
Now that I'm thinking about it, I think my rack may be too close to the broiler. I saw some flames shoot off the side when I put it into the oven. Didn't effect the taste at all though.
ETA: my bread crumbs may have been slightly scorches, but there weren't that many on there to make a difference.
Apologies. Read your post too quickly and misattributed the cause of the smoking.
My skillet was most definitely too close to the broiler. I think that with broiling, more than any other cooking method, one-size instruction just does not fit all. The same timing and distance just cannot work for both gas and electric. It may take a bit of fiddling to figure out what works best with your equipment, but the experiments sure are tasty.