The halibut and salmon being sold right now are superb, delicious fish. But there are other options out there that shouldn’t be underestimated in terms of wonderful flavor. One is rockfish, which when filleted and sautéed, make a fabulous dinner.
Here are two sauces for sautéed rockfish. Both are great and I hope you will try each one. Cooking this way is very fast. Once you start the process, the fish will be ready to eat within ten minutes. So have your side dishes prepared ahead. We are serving our fish with rice pilaf and a salad, but any sides will do. Sauteed spinach, baked potatoes, pasta, steamed vegetables, they are all tasty. Other whitefish are very good too. Try this recipe with ling cod, true cod or another whitefish of your choice.
One pound of fish filets of approximately the same thickness. This will serve two people unless you are feeding teenagers.
Pan sauce # 1 PICCATA
1 tablespoon minced shallot
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup white wine*
2 tablespoons finely minced parsley
1 tablespoon capers (optional)
One tablespoon or more of cold butter
Pan Sauce #2 WINE CREAM SAUCE
1 tablespoon minced shallot
2 tablespoons of butter
¼ cup white wine (pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc)*
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon or more of cold butter
*If you don’t have wine, substitute chicken broth
Salt and pepper each fish filet and dredge lightly in flour.
With the burner set to medium high, heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan large enough to hold all your fish (no more than 1/8 inch depth).
Place fish fillets in sizzling oil (if it doesn’t sizzle, remove filets, reflour and heat oil to desired temperature.) Saute fish until golden brown on each side and carefully remove to serving platter. If the fish is less than ½ inch thick it will only take a couple of minutes on each side. A one-inch thick filet will take about 5 minutes on each side. For this recipe the thinner the filet the better.
Pour oil from pan leaving in the brown bits (the French call this “le fond”). With the heat turned to medium low, add butter. When melted, add the shallots, stirring until soft. Add wine and/or lemon juice, bring to a simmer then reduce by half. For the piccata recipe toss in the capers and parsley. If the sauce seems too thin, quickly whisk in a tablespoon of cold butter. When emulsified, remove from heat and pour over fish. You need just enough sauce to coat the fish with a little extra.
If making the cream sauce, add white wine after sautéing the shallots. Reduce by half then add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer. At the very last, add a tablespoon of cold butter and whisk to emulsify. Pour over the sautéed fish filet.
• Patricia Schied is a longtime Juneau resident who studied at the Cordon Bleu in London, has cooked meals for both AWARE and the Glory Hall, and has written a cookbook. Cooking For Pleasure appears every other week in Capital City Weekly.