November 06, 2002
Fish etc.
posted by Nadia
fish dish

When I lived in Washington, my co-workers at the Advisory Board had a tradition of going to Cafe La Ruche for birthdays and other festive occasions. It was a cozy little French cafe, with lots of bistro-style dishes, and a variety of interesting quiche/soup/salad-type options for lunch. They also offered absolutely enormous desserts. I particularly remember one dish I ate there -- a simple fillet of white-fleshed fish, topped with a "sauce" of sautéed mushrooms, garlic, and parsley. The flavors were clean and bright and simple, and I hoped this evening to create something similar.

We got two nice pieces of sea trout at the market, despite not knowing exactly what sea trout is. I first suspected it might be one of those fishes that recently got a new-and-improved, but scientifically incorrect, name for marketing purposes -- a magical Cinderella-type tranformation for what was formerly known as the "buck-toothed sawfish" or "moldy-bearded mudfish." I looked it up on the Unternet when I got home and found that I wasn't completely off base. Sea trout (Cynoscion nebulosus) is in fact a member of the drum family, and is also commonly known as (heh heh) "weakfish."

In any case, I decided to cook the fish with a bit of moisture to keep it from sticking (determined to use our brand-new fish spatula, I stayed away from our nonstick pans for fear they would scratch). I first sautéed button and shitake mushroom slices with some shallots in oil and butter, then added a bunch of slivered garlic once the mushrooms were nice and brown. Just before the garlic started to color, I added a good bit of white wine to deglaze, reduced it until it was just lightly coating the bottom of the pan, and placed the fish in the pan. Cooked it all on medium heat until the fish was done, removed and plated the fish atop broiled zucchini slices, added parsley and a bit of both garlic and fresh wine off-heat, and poured the mushroomy goodness on top of the fish. Mmmm. I also served corn muffins with this meal (recipe below).

Fabulous Pride and Prejudice Cornbread Muffins
(courtesy of Nicole Li)

Mix together:
1 c. corn meal
1 c. white flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. sugar

Cut into the flour/cornmeal mixture:
1/4 c. vegetable shortening

Beat together 1 c. milk and 1 egg, then mix quickly in with the rest of the ingredients. Pour into muffin tins greased with butter (or hot bacon fat, if you're feeling really feisty), and bake for 15-20 minutes at 425 degrees.