So many people I speak with -- clients, students, friends -- tell me they're afraid of cooking fish. Everyone seems to think that because a fillet of white fish is relatively delicate, it's a complicated task to prepare. Not so. A white, flaky fish fillet (and not canned tuna!) is, to my mind, the chicken of the sea: everybody likes it, and you can almost always find some variety of white fish where you purchase fresh seafood, filleted and ready to be cooked and eaten. The local catch varies from place to place, of course, and in many cultures, fish is usually sold whole. This is not to save the fishmonger the work of filleting the fish, but more for the discerning customer who wants to judge the freshness of the fish by checking to see that its eyes are clear, and that the fish's gills are a rosy red. But in the U.S., whole fish can be hard to come by. Seafood shops resemble sushi counters, with a variety of already-filleted specimens arranged on ice for the customer to select. Here, since you can't look the fish in the eyes, it becomes important that you trust that your fishmonger is getting in a constant supply of fresh fish.
But regardless of where you are on the globe, how you buy your fish, or what your local catch may be, you can always whip up a healthy, fresh fish meal in about 30 minutes. Recently, I found a gorgeous fillet of locally-caught wild blackfish. I wanted a light, healthy meal for a warm September evening. I often plan my plates using color as a guide -- a surefire way to pair foods containing a variety of vitamins and minerals -- so here I accompanied the fish fillet with diced oven roasted sweet potato and fresh snap peas. The result is a dinner plate filled with a riot of eye-catching color, and great flavor. Since it's easy to prepare a pan sauce after cooking the fillet, I decided to make use of a fresh lime and some sauvignon blanc I had on hand.
This recipe is for one; it can easily be multiplied for any number of guests you may have.
*Fillet of white flaky fish: any fresh catch will do, from sea bass to snapper to flounder and anything in between. 6-8 ounces per serving.
*Sweet potato or yam
*Handful of snap peas
*1 lime or lemon
*1/4 cup crisp white wine
*dash of white balsamic or rice wine vinegar
*good quality olive oil
*pat of butter
*salt and pepper
*Sriracha sauce (if you like a bit of a kick)
- If the sauce is a little thick, add a touch of warm water to the pan and swirl to blend. Taste and adjust for salt. Drizzle the sauce over and around the fish fillet.
- Turn the heat up on the pan, toss the snap peas in, and warm through. This will also coat the peas with the remaining pan sauce. When they're warm, put the snap peas on the plate alongside the fish and potatoes.
- Serve immediately...and pour yourself a glass of that crisp white wine. Enjoy!