I had gone to the grocery store earlier today for cat food and out of habit cruised by the meat counter to see what had been marked down. I could not resist the pound and a half of “boneless cross rib roast” marked down from $7 to the “club price” of $2.46, then had a $2 off sticker attached. So for 46 cents I came home with a decent looking pound and a half of beef, not sure what I could do with it. I decided to make a modified pot roast with it tomorrow night (modified in terms of size mostly). Around here, if you don’t cruise the mark-downs you’ll never get beef for less than $2/pound. I’ve rubbed it with a mix of thyme, rosemary, paprika, salt, and seasoned salt.
I’m not a big fish eater. I’ve mentioned this before. But my girls like fish–most any kind actually. So I periodically buy some and attempt to cook it. A while back I bought a pack of frozen orange roughy at Costco. I can’t remember what I did with the first batch of it, but I remember they liked it. Tonight I pulled out the last 4 fillets (or FI-lets, as I heard it pronounced in N’Orleans many years ago) and thawed them out, with no clue as to what I would do with them.
So tonight I faced the fish. Or rather I decided to do the fish after I figured out that the cross rib roast would be best slow-cooked and I didn’t have time for that tonight. I decided to go with simple over complex–almost always a good choice when it’s after 5pm and you’re still figuring out dinner! I decided to do a bit of a “sauce” for me though, since I don’t really like fish. I cribbed this out of How to Cook Everything. What I love about this cookbook is that Mark Bittman gives you a basic recipe, in this case floured and fried fish, and then gives you some variations on the basic recipes. I also liked that he listed all the different fish that are similar and can be cooked in this method. I can never find a recipe calling for “orange roughy” but here he had listed all the fish that are similar so I could follow the timing. He lists pollock, blackfish, carp, cod, grouper, monkfish, orange roughy, red snapper, striped bass, turbot, and whiting. He says they all cook about 8-10 minutes per inch, with some variations. I never see half these fish at the local market so have no idea. But I do see orange roughy and never knew how to cook it before.
You can either dip the fish in flour and then fry over high heat until done (about 10 minutes total in this case, turned over halfway through) or dip in flour, dip in egg, then dip in flour or bread crumbs again for an extra crispy version, which is what I opted for (with the flour, not the bread crumbs). If you don’t want the extra crispy version, just do the initial dredging in flour and skip the egg and second dip. The fish will easily flake with a fork when done. Serve with some lemon wedges and you’re fine.
If you’re like me and want a “little extra” flavor on the fish, make up a sauce in the same pan and pour it on the fish or serve it in a side dish if you have some folks, like my kids, who want their fish plain. I used chicken stock because I had some in the freezer but you could use vegetable or beef stock or water as well.
The girls loved the fish plain. I liked it with the sauce. I would have eaten it plain but I liked the flavors in the sauce. In fact, I had extra sauce and was trying to decide what to do with it, as it was quite tasty.
Orange Roughy with Pan Sauce
- 4 white fish fillets (e.g. orange roughy)
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs optional
- 2 Tbs oil, divided
- 2 Tbs minced garlic
- 1 Tbs minced fresh ginger
- 1 Tbs white wine or sherry
- 1/3 cup chicken stock
- 1 Tbs soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp chili garlic paste or red pepper flakes or hot sauce
- 1 tsp fresh cilantro, chopped
For the Fish
- Put the flour, bread crumbs and egg in separate flat dishes like pie pans and scramble the egg a bit with a fork.
- Dip the fish in flour, then egg, then flour or bread crumbs again. for an extra crispy version, which is what I opted for (with the flour, not the bread crumbs). If you don’t want the extra crispy version, just do the initial dredging in flour and skip the egg and second dip.
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan that will comfortably fit all the fillets.
- Add the fish to the pan and cook until done, turning over halfway through, about 10 minutes total. The fish will easily flake with a fork when done. Serve with some lemon wedges and the optional sauce below.
For the Pan Sauce
- Take the fish out of the pan and wipe it quickly with a paper towel, then add another tablespoon of oil.
- Add the garlic and ginger and cook half a minute, about as much time as it takes to get the wine in your hands.
- Add the wine, cook and stir a few seconds, then add the stock, soy sauce, and chili garlic paste or other hot stuff. Pour over the fish and sprinkle some fresh cilantro over it all.
I served this with some steamed spinach and raw peas in the pod. Very easy. Very good. Pretty healthy I think. True to form, I ate the smallest FI-let and the girls split the extra one between them.
Hearing the FI-let in my head reminded me of one of my favorite N’Orleans stories. I used to travel there fairly regularly, during two different periods, though rarely got to spend time in the city proper. We went across the lake to Mandeville, to a computer company there. Sometimes I stayed in Mandeville, other times in New Orleans. One night a group of us are out to dinner and one of my friends, a great storyteller, was in the midst of one of his great stories when the waiter comes around with the salads. The salads are served and the waiter asks about fresh ground pepper. He goes around the table with the pepper grinder and comes to my storytelling friend, who looks up and nods at the sight of the pepper grinder. And continues his story. The waiter grinds some onto his salad, hesitates, grind a little more, hesitates, and looks at my friend. My friend is totally caught up in his story, something exciting about when he worked the Alaska pipeline perhaps, and he nods at the waiter. The waiter proceeds to add some more ground pepper to the salad. By this time, all of us at the table are watching this ever-blackening salad and my friend with great interest–but we don’t interrupt! The waiter looks at my friend. He nods and continues the story. We stare in fascination. After a few more nods and grinds and nods and grinds, my friend suddenly looks down, notices the layer of pepper, looks up and says “OH! ENOUGH pepper! Thanks!” I’ve seen blackened fish. Blackened steak. This was my first experience with blackened salad. Which has nothing to do with the recipe. I just cannot separate FI-let from this memory.