Saturday, May 03, 2008

Fish With Browned Butter Caper Sauce- No More Tarter Sauce

As a person who loves to cook, I try to bring creative blends of spices and tastes into every recipe. Presentation is also important to me. The food needs to be beautiful to look at as well as bring subtle flavorings to the palate that makes the dish memorable and enjoyable. One of my peeves is to see all that effort smothered under big blobs of tarter sauce, catsup or mindless additions of salt and pepper. People learned to eat with these condiments as a standard addition to food. Meatloaf? Smother it in catsup. Fish? Smother it in tarter sauce. Turkey? Stlather some canned cranberry jelly on it. Lamb? Mint sauce.

When my husband and I began dating I would have him over for gourmet dinners. You know......the way to a man's heart and all. I think it worked since we have been married for 15 years now. I was horrified and offended to see him grab the salt or ask for catsup on the dish without even tasting it first. "Ahem.....I spent some time on least you could taste it the way the cook (I) intended it before you start adding salt or catsup! " Tarter sauce on fish was a bone of contention. He insisted that he must have it on all fish. Now there is nothing wrong with a good homemade tarter sauce as a condiment on some fish dishes but to my mind especially eating a delicately flavored fish like sole or tilapa or even red snapper, the fish is overwhelmed by what is basically flavored mayonnaise.

Here is a technique for fish and it is now my husband's favorite way to eat fish and without tarter sauce. There are no exact measurements. A free form recipe that I make on the fly depending on how much fish I have on hand.

Butter Sauce Ingredients:
4 to 8 tbsp room temperature butter
2 to 3 tbsp capers drained and smooshed (technical term)
1/4 to 1/3 cup lemon juice

Cooking the fish:

Rinse off the fillets and damp dry. Flour and set aside to let the flour cling. Re-flour again just before cooking.

Put a thin layer of peanut oil in a skillet and get it VERY hot before adding the fish. Place the fillets in the pan and cook briefly until crusty and golden brown on one side. Carefully flip over (using two spatulas when cooking sole so it doesn't break apart) and cook until brown on the other side. Thin fillets like sole will only take a few minutes to cook. Thicker fish like snapper as much as 5 to 6 minutes. DO NOT OVER COOK THE FISH. Nothing worse than dried out over cooked fish......this is probably why the tarter sauce conundrum came about. Your fish should be flaky but still moist inside. Barely translucent. Place the fillets on a warm platter.

Make the sauce:
There should be barely any peanut oil in the pan. If there is then drain it but leave the browned bits of flour. Remember you are not deep frying the fish and the hot hot hot oil should be just enough to keep it from sticking to the pan.
In the hot skillet over a fairly high heat add the butter and swirl it around until it begins to sizzle. Add the capers and smoosh them a bit in the butter to release more of their flavors. Cook until the butter starts to turn a golden brown (not black). Be careful it won't take more than 10 seconds to go from brown to black. Remove from the heat and pour in the lemon juice. It will sizzle and pop. Immediately pour the sauce over the fillets.

Enjoy with a fresh Ceasar salad, steamed asparagus, couscous or other pasta and of course a crisp white wine.

For you sportsmen who catch Blue Gill or Croppie or Bass, this also an excellent way to cook those fishes.

1 comment:

idec44 said...

I totally agree with you! Very annoying the indiscriminate sprinkling of salt and other condiments on food before they are even tasted. The stock answer I get is 'But I know your cooking will be very low in salt' No excuse!