Monday, November 23, 2009

Day 251 - Shallow-Poached Fish Fillets

Marcy was coming over, as usual, for our weekly meal, and the plan was to make her the Scrambled Eggs with Caviar, served in egg shells. I'd even made my little egg shell serving "dishes" in anticipation of this event.

But then... I saw them. I'd been waiting for them for months. They were there when I started the project, and then they disappeared. But now they're back. Finally back. Of course, I'm talking about... kumquats!

Shallow-Poached Fish Fillets (p. 222)

This dish calls for a delicate white fish to be shallow-poached in a citrus-y liquid, then served with a citrus-y butter sauce. I opted for flounder, and it did not behave as I expected it to...

I definitely messed this one up, but I don't think I'm entirely to blame. Martha says that flounder is especially delicate and may cook in as little as 30 seconds. The indication that it's ready is opaqueness and flakiness when touched. Well, my flounder took even more than the predicted 30 seconds-5 minutes to get opaque and flaky. And it tasted overcooked. Now how did THAT happen? Plus, to add insult to injury, I had to do the fish in two batches since they were too big to fit in my pan in one pass, so those first two fillets were really unappetizing by serving time.

Similarly off was the making of the butter sauce. By the time the fish was done, there was not much liquid in the pan. Once strained, I didn't even have the three tablespoons I needed to make the butter sauce. I got a little extra liquid from what was collecting on the plate under the reserved flounder fillets. I incorporated the butter and ended up with a CRAZILY thick butter sauce. Practically spreadable. Tasty, but off.

As for the kumquats, I can't say it's the beginning of a love affair. They weren't very juicy. Martha says to squeeze them to release their juice, but I had nary a drop of juice released. Were they particularly dry, or is Martha just thinking wishfully? To me, kumquats are everything that's worth throwing away from an orange, without any of the "good stuff." Yes, you do get a big jolt of citrus flavor, but rind has never been my thing, and this is basically all rind.

That said, they were an interesting visual, they provided a lot of flavor, and it was fun to try them.

By the time my butter sauce was done, the fish was overcooked AND lukewarm. Not a good combination. Is it really possible to keep a piece of fish warm yet moist while it waits for you to make a butter sauce? If you think so, share your technique please.

In the end, this dish was a bust. Every element of the dish was off in some way. I have two more variations on this recipe to go, so maybe I'll be able to improve my technique with those.

Jeff: C-
Martha: B (Opaque=overcooked. Release juice? Not so much.)

Until we eat again....

Marcy was just happy for fish.

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