Sunday, May 30, 2010
Well, not literally. Though if Richard did fish, I might have understood his fish fixation... because for a while now he's wanted to make a whole fish - I mean a whole, whole fish - head and all.
I tried to discourage him by telling him about my first big Manhattan dinner date in an upscale NY restaurant. I was nervous. I was fresh out of college and hadn't been to many 'fancy' restaurants in the city. I wanted to play it safe and not order anything too expensive or too difficult to eat (lobster would fit into both those categories). I like meat, but since I also like it 'bloody,' I thought that might not make the best impression on my date, so I opted for fish. I can't remember what kind of fish, but I know I was thinking along the lines of a sole almondine, poached salmon or pan fried filets -- so when the waiter brought my entree and placed it in front of me I was sick. Literally. Sitting on the plate, one eyeball looking right up at me, was my dinner. I waited a moment to see if its tail was going to wave before I gagged and hurried to the ladies room. By the time I got back to the table, the fish had been removed and I sipped water for the rest of the evening. I really don't like my food looking up at me. My date wasn't all that pleased, either. At least not w/ me.
When I finished my sad little story I expected sympathy, empathy and every other applicable "thy," but Richard wasn't moved. He still wanted to make a whole fish. He was heedless! But he proposed a compromise - he promised to remove all its offending parts before serving it to me. From heedless to headless... Needless to say, it was delicious.
This is how he made it -- a variation of Alton Brown's recipe from the Food Network site.
1 (2 to 3-pound) or 2 (1 to 1 1/2-pounds) whole striped bass, gutted and scaled
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large bunch fresh parsley, plus extra, for serving
1 large bunch fresh dill
1 large lemon, thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
Trim the fins from the fish, rinse and pat dry. Set aside.
Rub the bottom of a roasting pan with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Place 1/2 of the parsley, dill, lemon and onion in the center of the roasting pan. Make sure that this mound of aromatics is high enough to prevent the fish from touching the bottom of the pan. Rub the fish inside and out with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Season the fish inside and out with the salt and pepper and lay on the bed of aromatics.
Richard also cut slits in the skin and inserted thin slices of garlic. He didn't have dill, so he made do w/ lots of parsley and marjormam from our herb garden. He added cherry tomatoes to the pan to serve as a side dish.
Place the second half of the aromatics on top of the fish and drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Cover the roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil and cook for 30 to 35 minutes or until the fish reaches an internal temperature of 120 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes...
then transfer the fish to a platter lined with the additional fresh parsley. Serve immediately w/ your choice of veggie or salad. We had broccoli.
Note: Next time he makes this dish, Richard says he will flash sautee the fish in a little olive oil in a frying pan first to make the skin crispy.