At lunch today, Dave (husband and sous chef) says, “So what are you going to call this?” Usually, by the time we’re eating, I have a name for my new dish. The thing is, a recipe title must say exactly what it is without being cutesy, obtuse, or overly long. My final choice isn’t cutesy–which would be something like “Aunt Alyce’s Fish Surprise.” It’s not obtuse–as in “Fish Supreme.” It is, however, overly long. I just can’t go over it one more time and I’m still not sure it states its case perfectly. I will say that while I thought about it for a week before I made it, it surpassed my dreams at the table. I wanted an oven fish meal and I got it. Simple and healthy? Check. No big shop or prep? Definitely. Contrasting in tastes and textures? Sure. Done quickly? Oh yeah. Scrumptious and satisfying? You’ll have to try it and see! We loved it.
Here’s how it rolls. You preheat the oven, chop some vegetables (see above–asparagus, leeks, and fennel), whisk together a spicy (or not) lemon-garlic vinaigrette for them (using half the vinaigrette here) and toss that mixed up together on a sheet pan. Next, stir together up some Panko bread crumbs with olive oil and Dijon-style mustard, etc., and spread that on top of salted and peppered fish fillets in a smaller pan.
Any firm white fish fillets will probably do–think pollack, haddock, cod… (Just make sure to adjust cooking time up or down if they’re really thin or thick.) Slide both pans in the oven for about 15 minutes and your dinner is done. Tender, crispy-topped fish with very springy barely done vegetables laced with that vinaigrette. As the oven’s up to 400 degrees F, you can leave your plates on top of the stove to warm. Do set the table, pop the cork on the wine, and have family or guests at the table or on speed dial so that everyone gets hot food. Don’t forget the rest of the vinaigrette for passing at the table. Still a little shaky about cooking fish? Scroll down for some reassuring info.
WHAT ELSE? Because this is a really light meal, you could add crusty bread and butter or some brown rice tossed with parsley for those who need more. Maybe even a sweet dessert. (Is it ice cream time yet?)
WINE: This is a night to let an off-dry white shine at the table. Think Viognier, a drier Riesling, or American Pinot Gris. A drier white would drink, but might fight a little with the very lemony vinaigrette. If you’re good with that, go ahead and pull out a Sauvignon Blanc or for special evenings, a favorite dry sparkling wine–which goes with nearly anything!
Whichever wine you choose, try this. And if you think of a better name, I’m all ears.
oven roasted dijon white fish with lemon-garlic spring vegetables
- Lemon-Garlic Vinaigrette, divided (recipe below)
- Vegetables: 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced; Fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced; 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 1 1/3 – 1 ½ pounds firm white fish Alaska pollock, catfish, grouper, haddock, Pacific cod, Pacific halibut, Pacific rockfish
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Panko Topping for fish (recipe below)
- Lemon wedges and cherry tomatoes for serving
- PREP: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Set the rack in the lower third of the oven, just below the center. Grease or line with foil a rimmed sheet pan for the vegetables and a smaller pan or ¼-sheet pan for the fish. Set pans aside.
- VEGETABLES: In a medium bowl, toss chopped vegetables with half of the vinaigrette (you’ll use the other half for serving) and pour them out evenly onto the greased sheet pan. Sprinkle with a ¼ teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Set aside.
- FISH: Pat the fish fillets dry on both sides and sprinkle one side with salt and pepper. Place the fish seasoned side down onto the smaller greased pan. Sprinkle the other side with a little more salt and pepper; drizzle each with ½ teaspoon of olive oil. If your fillets have thin ends, tuck them under so they don’t overcook. Spoon ¼ cup or more of the Panko topping on top of fillets making sure to cover each evenly and completely. Pat the crumbs gently down onto the fish. Some crumbs will fall between the fillets into the pan and that’s ok.
- ROAST THE VEGETABLES AND FISH in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until fish is just opaque and nearly firm (145 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant read thermometer) and vegetables are tender-crisp. Remove from oven and let rest two minutes.
- SERVING: Divide the fish and vegetables between the plates and serve hot with remaining lemon-garlic vinaigrette, a wedge of lemon, and a few cherry tomatoes.
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (juice of two lemons)
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed, and minced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- In a 1-cup measuring cup, whisk together all but the olive oil. Drizzle the oil in slowly, whisking until thoroughly combined.
PANKO TOPPING FOR FISH:
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons each: Dijon-style mustard and minced parsley
- ¼ teaspoon each: kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together very well.
FISH COOKING BASICS:
Most seafood should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F. If you don’t have a food thermometer, there are other ways to determine whether seafood is done.FDA
Fish: The flesh is clear and separates easily with a fork
Shrimp, Scallops, Crab, and Lobster: The flesh becomes firm and clear
Clams, Mussels, and Oysters: The shells open during cooking — throw out ones that don’t open.
OR: Rather than worry any more, just start with cooking some fish! One method is to memorize the 10- Minute Rule for Cooking Fish first printed by the Canadian Department of Fisheries in its 1959 “Canadian Fish Cook Book,” to encourage fishing and eating fish. It reads like this:
– Measure the fish at its thickest point. If the fish is stuffed or rolled, measure it after stuffing or rolling and then time it accordingly.from Field & Stream
– Cook fish 10 minutes per inch, turning it halfway through the cooking time. For example, a one-inch fish steak should be cooked 5 minutes on each side for a total of 10 minutes. Pieces of fish less than 1/2-inch thick do not need to be turned over.
– Add 5 minutes to the total cooking time if you are cooking the fish in foil, or if the fish is cooked in a sauce.
– Double the cooking time for frozen fish that has not been defrosted. Use this rule as a general guideline since fillets often don’t have uniform thickness.
The 10-minute rule has its exceptions, but overall, it’s a pretty good guideline. No matter what cooking method you’re using – frying, sauteing, baking – it all works. Of course, after you use it a few times, you’ll get a feel for how to cook any fish perfectly and won’t have to follow the rule to the letter. Until then, consider the Canadian Cooking Method and eat more fish.
Last night we grilled the first chicken of the season outdoors. While she’s a bit lewd to look at, she ate pretty darned well. Well-stuffed with lemon wedges and sprigs of fresh thyme for the win.
What are you cooking to celebrate spring?