February 26, 2016 — Methods & Techniques
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This is similar to cooking en papillote i.e. encasing in a sealed bag of paper or foil. This method creates steam in the bag and ensures flavours stay with the fish and any other flavouring or ingredients that are cooked with the fish. My way just does away with the bag idea – but still uses a foil seal over the fish to steam and trap flavour. In effect you make your own sauce as the fish cooks. Many recipes work with aniseed aromatics or vegetables and my method follows the same flavour trail.
I’ve used a shallot, tarragon and wine. You could use and onion, parsley or stock as alternatives.
Slice the shallot, and fennel as finely as possible and put into a baking dish with the herbs, wine and some butter. Season with salt and pepper.
Wrap the dish tightly with foil. Give sauce a head start in the oven at 200C, Gas 6 for 10-15 minutes.
It will be partially cooked. Generally, fish cooks much quicker than most vegetables in the oven, so it is a good idea to do this style of cooking in stages. Take a fillet of fish and cut off the skin (it will get soggy and slimy in the sauce if it is left on).
Cover the fish with lemon. This is only for protecting the flesh and imparting flavour. Add butter on top of the lemon, again to flavour and moisten the fish. Add a little chicken stock (or water) and a little cream. (Yes, I know milk and acid don’t go – but despite any curdling it will eventually emulsify into a smooth sauce. Put the foil back on and put in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
NB: At 200C, Gas 6 – salmon is going to be done between 20-30 minutes depending on your oven and where you put the fish in the oven. The best way to test if the fish is done is to prod it open with a knife and ensure it is opaque and not raw. If you have a temperature probe the fish will be done at 60C.
Here is the cooked salmon in the baking dish. If you have not over-cooked the fish it can sit here like this quite happily for 10-15 minutes (cover loosely with foil). To serve, remove the lemon and and plate. Whisk the sauce and pour over the fish. Simple boiled potatoes and a green vegetable will go very well with this. And the sauce is amazing by the way…
This is a brilliant way to cook salmon. Like the method above it needs to be cooked in stages -the vegetables are cooked until until tender and then the fish is added. The flavours merge together through the cooking and leave an fantastic sauce. All it needs is some nice crusty bread.
Start with Mediterranean vegetables and herbs. I’ve got red pepper and chilli, a courgette, tomatoes, shallot, garlic, olives, oregano and fresh basil.
Slice up the vegetables and add to a dish – add olive oil, oregano and salt and pepper.
Mix them up and put in an oven at 200C, Gas 6 for 20-25 minutes.
This is how my veg looked after the first stage of cooking – a bit of burned is good, mix it up, add chopped basil and parsley and black olives. If it looks a little dry add a small amount of stock, wine or water.
Put the descaled fish fillet in skin side up. Dry the flesh well and season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
Cook in the oven for another 20-25 minutes. If you have not over-cooked the fish it can sit here like this quite happily for 10-15 minutes (cover loosely with foil). To serve, put on a plate with the vegetables and juices. Serve with crusty bread.
This style of cooking is not only tasty but practical. The crust protects the fish from the heat of the oven and ensures it stay moist whilst the crust has some crunch.
I’ve used fresh thyme, tarragon, chives and parsley – but just parsley would work fine. You need grated parmesan cheese, bread crumbs and butter.
Chop the herbs, you could use a processor but I find this can make everything a green mush. I did this by hand and it gives a good texture and colour. The bread crumbs were bought – but otherwise blitz some stale bread in a a processor. Grate the parmesan. You could also add grated lemon rind.
Mix it up and add some butter.
Then mold into a crumbly clump and shape into the shape of the fillet.
Add it onto the flesh side of the fillet. This was cooked in an oven at 200C, gas 6 for 20-25 minutes – adjust the timing according to how the fish is cooking in your oven. The best way to test if the fish is done is to prod it open with a knife and ensure it is opaque and not raw. If you have a temperature probe the fish will be done at 60C.
Serve with a simple salad and lots of lemon.
A tasty cheat made in an instant!
At the heart of Mexican cooking is a proper Mexican corn tortilla.
This was an improvised quick dinner. I did not plan to post it, but it was so good I photographed it while we were eating it!
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