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Nyonya Delicacies

Baking a Fish

(Newsletter Issue #024)


How to bake a fish to perfection

Baking in a small amount of aromatic liquid, called braising is a simple and practical way to cook whole fish, fillets, or steaks. The fish flavors the surrounding liquid as it cooks, so that the liquid can be used to make quick, savory sauces.

The technique is simple. Butter a baking dish or pan just large enough to hold the fish in a single layer. Sprinkle the bottom of the dish with chopped aromatic ingredients like shallots, garlic, mirepoix of vegetables, of finely chopped raw mushrooms. Place the fish on top (in a single layer, if you're cooking fillets or steaks) and season with salt and pepper. Add enough liquid - wine, fish broth (stock) or concentrated red-wine fish broth - to come halfway up the side of the fish. Loosely cover the pan or dish with parchment paper or foil, bring to a simmer on top of the stove, transfer to the oven, and bake until done. (or skip the aromatics and just pour enough simmering liquid over the fish to come halfway up the sides of the fish, cover with parchment, and bake). Remove the fish and serve with the cooking juices as they are.


Whole Flounder Baked with White Wine and Shallots

1. Sprinkle minced shallots generously over the bottom of an ovenproof oval pan and place the whole flatfish - top skin removed and the bottom skin scaled - on top.
2. Pour over wine and fish broth to come halfway up the sides of the fish.
3. Place the pan on the stove and bring the liquid to a simmer over high heat. Place an oval of parchment paper or aluminum foil over the fish and baked at 375oF until the fish is cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes per inch of thickness.
4. Place the pan on the stove over medium heat, remove the parchment paper, and use a wide spatula to transfer the fish to a plate or platter.
5. Whisk butter into the cooking liquid in the pan.
6. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and spoon over the fish. Serve whole, or fillet the fish.

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