Fishy Friday can be any day. For those who celebrate the Easter season it’s perhaps a perfect Lent meal.
Buy large, thick, fresh from the sea, sole fillets. Make absolutely sure they are not water-logged. If so, when you get home and try to pan-fry them, they will turn to mush.
Dip the fillets in quite heavily seasoned flour: salt, pepper, a few grains of nutmeg, a pinch of sweet paprika and I prefer just a bit of crushed thyme leaves, a little fresh chopped dill, just a pinch of fresh chervil or tarragon, minced, and yes, a pinch of sugar.
Then dip each dredged fillet (shake off the excess) in gently whisked egg yolks laced with saffron, using a large work spoon with holes in, so the extra egg can drip off. Sauté in very hot but not browned butter, just once over lightly. Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and a little salt while hot.
Deglaze the skillet with a quarter cup of Pernod or Chartreuse. Reduce to just a couple of tablespoons. Scrape the drippings and liquid into a little wait-dish. Then stir into the warm cream sauce.
Serve with a small amount of medium thick cream sauce made from fish stock (light plain chicken stock will do if you don’t have fish stock), cream, chives and whatever herbs you enjoy. Reduce to thicken. Pour a little sauce around the plate, not directly on the fish. And present a couple of fresh cut lemon curls for those who enjoy lemon on their sole.
Once plated on a hot white or black plate, you might enjoy a few added homemade large pieces of candied walnuts or hazelnuts, sprinkled overtop.
Invest in a long-handled little deep fry wire basket that forms potato strings into a bird’s nest. Salt the hot deep-fried nests immediately. Fill the deep fried potato nests with fresh poached, blanched green snap peas pushed from the garden pods. Extravaganza: add a few tiny bay scallops, gently sautéed in butter and a pinch of thyme leaves, to the peas in the potato nest.
Drizzle the tiny scallops with just a little warm melted butter and sprinkle with only a tiny bit of fresh grated nutmeg.
This is a very light, easy on the eye meal, easily digested. Make plenty. There won’t be leftovers. But on the off chance there is a little fish piece extra, make a delicious sandwich on a buttered soft, fresh, Parker House dinner roll for next day’s lunch. Serve with a little tartar sauce.
And, if it’s fishy party time:
If you are doing a fishy brunch, this recipe added along with battered or breaded juicy fresh sea scallops, tiny breaded crab cake patties and breaded salmon quenelles on a skewer, like a lollipop, makes for a wonderful seafood mix.
How about a long party skewer, loaded with deep fried mini, breaded quenelles, breaded baby bay scallops, breaded coins of crab cake patties and small pieces of ready cooked cognac flambéed lobster claw meat in between? Maybe six pieces per skewer. Add a plate of lemon curls nearby, so people can help themselves to the citrus.
On the side, present a minuscule paper cup (the size of a large thimble) with each skewer on a plate, one with orange blossom honey from Israel, one with my Asbach Uralt brandy black mission fig congealed figgy jus, one with Canadian maple syrup (you might want to try WildlyDelicious brand Black Maple Magic balsamic vinegar and one with their Petite Maison White Truffle Mustard). Provide small party skewers to be used to pop each item easily into the mouth when removed from presentation plate skewers, one at a time. The skewers are great to poke finger food.
Add a rectangular platter of crispy, raw, white Belgian Endive leaves to the table as amuse bouche, tipped with a teaspoon of salmon quenelles, or tiny quenelles made from bay scallop purée. If you have a very large, round, platter, arrange the endive in a circle.
There are endless combinations to use to make up a seafood buffet table. Make up your own originals.
Check out my personal coleslaw recipe, to serve as a small side dish.
For those interested in pairing with an alcoholic beverage, one suggestion (A Canadian thing!) is a Bloody Caesar, (very different than a Bloody Mary) in a tall glass rimmed in lemon or lime juice dipped in fine celery salt.
A pretty and crunchy fresh celery stick added to the glass isn’t just a stir stick, it’s an edible treat. Use a celery stick long enough to protrude well above the glass that has a few leaves still attached. If you want to make a little different celery stick, try this:
Cut celery in four to six-inch lengths, depending on the height of your glasses. Make several lengthwise slits in each piece, making skinny strings, cutting only about a third of the length.
Toss the celery split sticks into a bowl of ice water until ready to use. The celery stick will curl at each slit in the stem, making a pretty flowerlike embellishment. Stand each flowered celery stick in the glass showing the curls on the ends.
You can buy individual serving size, readymade glass bottles of Caesars at the liquor store to have at the ready. You can add your own spritz of hot sauce, as much or as little as you like, to complete the drink. Careful: easy on the ice, often people will add far too much ice and it waters down the drink. It doesn’t stretch it, it spoils it completely. You might want to add a lemon curl on the rim for those who would appreciate a little citrus squeeze.
© “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks”