Monday, June 10, 2013

Dinner with Mac & Sacha: White Wine Poached Fish

Now that Maconda and Sacha have a fancy grown-up person house, they finally have the space to utilize their fancy grown-up wedding gifts. When presented with the opportunity to use said fancy adult things on their sparkling new island kitchen-top, I couldn't resist. The only problem was figuring out what splendiferous culinary feat we should make. Initially, my thoughts turned to trying painstakingly time-hungry new techniques like braising or making confit in honor of Sacha's homeland, but our adult responsibilities (read: my video games aren't gonna play themselves) led to a compromise. We'd teach ourselves the time friendly skill of poaching (read: we wanted an excuse to drink wine, and I always wanted to describe myself to strangers as "a poacher"). Their shiny new kitchen would be broken in with a delightful meal of wine-poached fish, bruschetta and roasted cauliflower.

Wine-Poached Fish
Servings: 6
Time: 40 minutes

6 fish fillets (I recommend cod)
Salt and Freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4-5 tbsp finely chopped shallot
1 1/2 cups chardonnay 
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp capers, rinsed 
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp finely chopped parsley

Wine poaching: the drunken hot sauna of fish
Not broccoli au gratin!
  1. Go to Kroger.
  2. Be very disappointed in their fish selection and convince yourself the recipe will be good enough to carry the meal.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 F. 
  4. Oil or butter a large baking dish then lay the fish in one layer and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Sauté the shallots in olive oil over medium heat until tender and translucent.
  6. Add the wine and bring to a boil.
  7. Pour the wine over the fish, cover with foil and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the fish becomes opaque and pulls apart easily with a fork.
  8. Remove the fish from the baking dish and place on a covered platter to keep warm.
  9. Reduce the poaching wine in a skillet to ~1/3 cup then add in the garlic cloves, capers, lemon juice, olive oil, parsley and salt to taste. Let cook for ~ 2 minutes.
  10. Pour the sauce over the fish and serve.
Yes, mask the lowly tilapia in delicious sauce topping.
It turns out the simple (20ish minute) technique of poaching is an incredible way to prepare fish. The end result had the absolute perfect texture for fish- beautifuly smooth and tender (almost buttery). Each bite came off effortlessly with a gentle pull from our forks, while the acidity of the picatta like sauce imparted wonderfully powerful flavors to the unassuming fish. The only improvement I would make to the sauce would be to add some butter at the very end to make it even more rich and help thicken it some (just cut the end olive oil, turn off the heat, add butter and let it melt to proper artery clogging thicknesses).

While the sauce will make just about any fish into a tasty masterpiece, proper fish selection will make your experience even more outstanding. Kroger's fish selection was rather limited (HEB should be used for all meat purchasing if in Texas), so I settled on tilapia and cod (it was either that or expensive sea bass). Personally, I hate the flavorless tilapia (specifically bred to not taste like fish for Americans), but I still really enjoyed my tilapia pieces thanks to the hard working sauce. The cod, however, was on an entirely different level as the fish itself stood up to the powerful sauce and held its own. The original recipe calls for the use of sole, flounder or swordfish, so I will be sure to verify the poaching process still works on these the next time I'm craving fish. Overall, I have to declare wine-poaching to be a giant success as the unbelievably simple and fast procedure perfectly cooked our meal while we watched sports on TV.

Not pictured: the 20 slices of bruschetta we all ate before the meal proper.
Come back soon for the other two equally awesome parts of our grown-up dinner: bruschetta and roasted cauliflower (Ok, I lied. The bruschetta far out awesomes them both) and to learn about Sacha's EMT skills following my finger being introduced to their sharp new knives.

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