Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Whole Fish and Farmer's Market Vegetables




We're stepping it up. Your date is sufficiently impressed so now it's time to bring in some friends, and have a party, but your wallet's kind of slim these days and you don't want to show it. This is when whole fish and farmer's market vegetables come into play. Fish that has not been filleted is about $2 less per pound, and once cooked falls easily away from it's bones and skin. Enough talk, let's get started. Preheat your oven to 450F.


Here's what you'll need, again the basics: 

A Half Sheet Tray
Olive Oil, Lemons, Garlic, salt and pepper
Cheap White Wine
Whole Flakey White Fish
Vegetables that maintain color and shape for long cooking times
Some Soft Herbs like dill, Italian parsley, chives, basil, fennel fronds, tarragon
Some Hard Herbs like sage, rosemary, thyme
Don't stress out, any one of these herbs are fine.
We're going to make a salad here too with some the the vegetables we picked up last week at the market. Keeping it simple while looking fancy, let's use a mandolin. Also some rice wine vinegar will be nice.


Score the fish by slashing skin to create a vent which will make the meat soft rather than soggy.



Let's prepare some stuffing that won't be eaten but rather will just provide an additional flavor component. If you have soft herbs, remove their leaves and reserve. Cut up some lemons, throw in some black peppercorns,

some smashed unpeeled garlic bulbs and your hard herbs if using. Aggressively season with salt and pepper. Toss with olive oil.

Salt and pepper the outside of each whole fish and open up it's cavity, salt and peppering it up a good deal. Next add the stuffing.

Prepare your sheet pan by placing down foil or parchment, then set aside enough sheets to wrap up each fish individually.


Chop up your vegetables. We used those Brussels Sprouts from last weeks Santa Monica Farmer's Market, purple onion, peeled and sliced garlic, and peppers; Salt, pepper, olive oil and some cheap white wine. That whole elitist edict of not cooking with wine you wouldn't drink is hogwash. Two Buck Chuck is perfectly fine here. Save the good stuff for the table.

For each whole fish, take a piece of foil and add some vegetables to the middle of the foil. Then place the fish on top and drizzle with some oil so the fish does not stick to the foil.








The goal now is to wrap the foil tightly around the fish, pinching the long ends together and folding over, then folding up the two other sides securing the fish to be air tight. 






This method is called "em papillote" and is pretty foolproof, thus it is great for do-it-yourself dinner parties where everyone makes their own "package". You can also get ahead by preparing your fish up until this point the day before and then refrigerating.


Place the fish in the oven for about 20 minutes. It's cooking time will vary by the size of your whole fish. 


For the salad we're using those gorgeous black carrots from the farmer's market last week and we're keeping them raw so they maintain their stunning color. Also we're going to use the sugar snap peas. If you have a mandolin, watch your fingers and slice up some of your vegetables. If this sharp tool gives you the willys, you can use a knife and slice as thin as possible.


Now add those reserved soft herb leaves, some salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon juice, maybe some toasted nuts (or raw if you want to maintain their maximum nutritional value) and some rice wine vinegar. Toss, toss. 


After your fish is fully cooked, take it out of the oven and carefully cut open the foil, as a lot of steam will be released.


Throw away that cheap wine, get out the good bottle and watch everyone marvel at your skills and generosity.

3 comments:

Tokyoastrogirl said...

I'd like to contact you for a possible catering gig...can you email me? tokyoastrogirl@gmail.com Thanks!

mattatouille said...

so what's the next move now? I heard from Joe Capella that you've disassociated with M.O.N.?

Term papers said...

My date is sufficiently impressed so now it's time to bring in some friends, and have a party, but My wallet's kind of slim these days and I don't want to show it. This is when whole fish and farmer's market vegetables come into play. Fish that has not been filleted is about $2 less per pound, and once cooked falls easily away from it's bones and skin.

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