Thursday, October 18, 2007

Marcella Rules!

If Marcella says it's her favorite fish dish, then who am I to argue? Oh, for the uninitiated, uncaring, and people who need a drastic upgrade in their quality of life, that would be Marcella Hazan, goddess of all that is Italian and edible. I was paging through the September '07 issue of Food & Wine in bed the other night before sleep so I could dream about my next meal and came across her recipe for Marinated Fish with Salmoriglio Sauce. Apparently about 30 years ago Marcella and hubby Victor, no slouch himself in the kitchen and wine cellar, were on Sicily in the resort town of Taormina and came across this dish which knocked her support hose off. No mean feat. She says ever since that first revelatory bite it's been a staple in her home, her classes, everywhere. That's good enough for me, so tonight it was time to put it to the test. Bottom line, score another one for Marcella! The salmoriglio sauce had this perfumey aroma from the fresh thyme, with that nice lemon juice and dijon tang and rich, creamy flavor. We had it with halibut, but I think it would be even better with fresh wild-caught salmon or swordfish. Plus, this was a super easy recipe and gave huge return on little effort. Immediately a regular in my repertoire, I can't wait to make it again.
Oh, and I opened a bottle of Meursault "Les Clous" with it, because I brought one home form the wine shack that I had to try. Now I am pretty much a white Burgundy slut, and if I'm slurping chardonnay, I want it to be just like this. Rich, creamy, butterscotchy-apple flavors, brilliant acidity and presence on the palate, which a sauce this flavorful needs. Not my everyday drinker, but it was here and needed my attention!

Salmoriglio sauce


Marinated Fish with Salmoriglio Sauce
from Marcella Hazan
serves 4


For Fish:

White vinegar

2 pounds fish fillets, such as wild salmon, arctic char, ruby trout or halibut, with or without skin.
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup fine, dry bread crumbs

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salmoriglio Sauce:

2 tablespoons thyme leaves

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


1. Prepare the Fish: Pour a little vinegar over the fish fillets, then rinse them under cold, running water. Pat the fillets dry with paper towels and arrange them on an ovenproof glass or ceramic platter. Rub a little salt over the skinless sides of the fillets and sprinkle with the lemon juice. Spread half of the bread crumbs over the fillets and drizzle them with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil; turn the fillets and repeat with the remaining bread crumbs and olive oil. Cover and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, make the Salmoriglio Sauce: In a mini food processor, combine the thyme leaves, lemon juice, mustard and salt. Pulse for 1 minute. Add the butter and process until completely smooth. With the machine on, add the olive oil in a thin, constant stream until fully incorporated. Season the sauce with salt and pour into a sauceboat.

3. Preheat the oven to 400° or light a grill. Bake the fish on the platter until just cooked through, about 12 to 15 minutes. Alternatively, grill the fish, skin side down for skin-on fillets, for about 5 minutes; turn the fillets and grill just until they flake, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer the fish to a platter. Pour the salmoriglio sauce over the fish fillets and serve.

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