Sunday, July 17, 2011

Poached Fish with Herbs

Poached Fish Plated
Cilantro and Capers on Tilapia

Recipe from “Good News”

“That’s a good recipe,” said my husband about some leftover fish.  He meant that it’s tasty, but it’s also easy to remember and simple to prepare. The recipe was given to me by a woman who was selling fresh fish at the local farmer’s market in the late 1990s. Her husband and son caught the fish from their small fishing boat. I was looking for a way to prepare the skate wings I’d just bought.

She gave me an easy-to-remember recipe with 3 main ingredients (besides the fish) in equal amounts: lemon juice, cooking wine, and water. I have since substituted white wine and grey salt for the cooking wine, and added capers to the herb “blanket” that she said to put on top of the fish. I’ve tried several herb combinations*, and you can improvise as I did from herbs that you have in your garden or fridge.

In the 1990s, skates caught as bycatch by this small hook and line trawler did no harm to local ocean ecology. However, nowadays commercially available skates from the US Atlantic are unsustainable and best avoided. Good alternatives on the US West Coast are thick tilapia, halibut, albacore, and cod (also good on US East Coast). Avoid monkfish and Chilean seabass. To find out the healthiest fish for both your body and the environment, download your Seafood Watch Pocket Guide or search on the fish of your choice courtesy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. So far the Guides are only available for the US, but there is an individual Guide for each region of the US.

I wish that I could give “the fish lady” credit by name, but I’ve forgotten it during the intervening years. Her husband’s boat, and their business name, was “Good News.” I will have to go back to the Wednesday farmer’s market in Santa Cruz again someday, to see if the family is still selling fish after all these years.

Herb "Blanket" on Fish Before Poaching
Poached Fish with Herbs
serves 4 - 6

1/3 cup white wine
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, about 2-3 Meyer lemons
¼ - ½ tsp. grey salt
1 to 1 ½ lb. thick white fish
2 tbsp. drained capers, chopped
1 cup loosely packed chopped green herbs*

Mix poaching liquid: combine wine, water, lemon juice and salt.

Chop together finely: capers and herbs (I use kitchen shears).

Put fish in medium frying pan (I use the electric pan). Pour in poaching liquid to almost cover. Note: if you are short on liquid, just add equal parts lemon juice, water, and wine to the right depth. Spread green herbs and capers evenly over top of fish.

Bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer until fish flakes easily, about 5 – 10 minutes, depending on thickness.

Variation: add 1 cup very thinly sliced mushrooms to pan with fish.

*Try one of these herb combinations, or create your own:
  cilantro & parsley
  basil, oregano and/or marjoram
  parsley, orange mint & chives
  dill & parsley
  or make up your own combo!

1 comment:

  1. When I read this yesterday morning, it sounded so good that I wanted it for breakfast! Light and easy, too. I look forward to trying it very soon. Thanks for addressing the sustainable seafood topic.