Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fancy French Fish

Plus français et tu meures. 

As they'd say in France.

I had some leftover shrimp stock, so we decided to see if I could successfully do something with a few  frozen flounder fillets from the freezer. Fantastic!

I soaked the fish in cold water for about 30 minutes, out of the bag. The water sucked in a lot of fish protein in the process, and I probably would have lost a lot of flavor if I'd thrown the water out. Instead, I heated it, skimmed off the white foam (a.k.a. protein) and added it to the shrimp stock.

A bit of clarified butter, some flour for a roux, some salt and that stock and voilà! Velouté sauce. That's the stuff under the fish and those strange arcs of unknown vegetable.

The fish got a bit of salt, some lemon juice, some Aleppo pepper. The dredging flour got the same things, sans lemon juice.

Into some more clarified butter it went, then out just before it was done to throw together a fun little pan sauce with some scallions, lemon thyme and a whiff of garlic. Throw in some pastis, a bit of dry Vermoouth, a bit of salt and there it is, a dab of something tasty to keep the dish from falling flat as a flounder.

This is one of those things that's not going to jump out and grab your taste buds. It's subtle. The acid balance (lemon juice) and salt have to be just right. Not enough salt and flat flounder. Not enough acid, ditto. Taste, taste, taste. Adjust, adjust adjust. When it's right, you'll get a clean fish flavor that will start to fade into boredom, then suddenly get picked up again with a salty-savory-acid zing.

Those aren't potatoes. That would be boring. Something with more flavor needs to happen here. Something brassicaceous. Something you can bake slowly to draw out all its flavor while letting it stay crunchy. The miracle vegetable? Kohlrabi. In this case, the fancy purple variety. It was just oven braised at 350°F with a brunoise of celery, some salt and some turkey stock. It took about an hour before I was happy with it. This is something to keep checking so that the stock doesn't scorch. I didn't add oil, since the slices were going right into the velouté sauce, and there's enough butter in that to keep any fat freak fabulously happy.

A bottle of Muscadet sur Lie, a bit of sourdough whole wheat bread and the meal is complete. Unless you want a piece of that tarte tatin for dessert.

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