I felt rather triumphant, having exceeded the Missus's expectations....basically pulling a recipe out of my....well, you know where, and making something She really enjoyed. The following day, the Missus sent me a text, telling me She, "wanted fish made totally differently from anything I've made before....no salt baked, no fried of any kind, no simmered, no baked, no saute, no stew, no pan fry, no stir-fry." No way!!! Not really knowing what to do, I picked up some olives on the way home.....I really don't know why.
I came home and started leafing through some of my cookbooks......some of the recipes were too elaborate to pull off on a weeknight. Until I went through Rick Moonen and Roy Finamore's Fish Without a Doubt. I found a recipe for Oil Poached Halibut with Gribiche. Sauce Gribiche is a classic French sauce, with cornichons, capers, vinegar, and such. Think of it as an unemulsified tartar sauce if you will....though I've come across recent versions of Gribiche that has been blended and it really did seem to be tartar sauce. Instead of that route, I used the olives, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and basically made my tapenade minus the anchovies and artichoke hearts.
The fish itself was pretty simple......the one item being, even though I used the tiniest cast iron pan I had, we ended up using quite a bit of olive oil for this. Still it came out rather well.
There are just four ingredients needed to prepare the fish:
- Salt and pepper fish filets and let sit for 45 minutes
- Heat oven to 175 or the lowest temp. Our circa 1959 oven's lowest is called "low" and bottoms out at 190 according to the oven thermometer
- Place fish in skillet/pan and add enough oil to cover. Remove fish and set aside.
- Place pan in oven and heat oil to about 125 degrees. I could still place my finger in the oil and it just felt hot.....you may just want to use a thermometer though. I don't want anyone coming after me after burning their finger!
- Add fish back to pan, cover (I used aluminum foil), and place in oven. Check after 15 minutes to make sure oil is not too hot....i.e. no deep fry action going, just a mild poach.
- Check after 20-25 minutes.I use a very sharp paring knife and insert into the fish. If it goes in cleanly, almost with resistance the fish is done, or will be done by the time you get in on the plate. White Sea Bass is pretty dense. This took about 35 minutes.
- Remove fish, blot dry, and serve.
The fish is very moist...almost melting away in my mouth. The flavors are mild. Texturally, this didn't do it for the Missus, even with the tapenade. It was a nice experience for Her.....even though She probably won't want me to make fish this way again, at least She tried it.
As we took care of the dishes after dinner, She turned to me and asked, "so what are you going to do with the halibut for tomorrow night? I want something really good.......something with mushrooms!" Stay tuned for the finale!