Swimming in Mustard: Halibut with Mustard Sauce

mustard sauce for fish whole foods dinner pescatarian

Halibut Swimming in Mustard

A few years back – this is my old-lady saying for the day – I was on a fishing trip in Florida. We might have gone out the night before until really late (old-lady late, like 11 or something) and we may have had some wine. All of this is irrelevent. Regardless, the 6:30am departure from the dock for a day of off-shore, deep sea, dolphin-fish fishing was a bit rough.

But, I grew up on boats and don’t have a tendency toward seasickness. So, really, I was just very tired.

halibut dinner mustard sauce pescatarian vegetarian

We were not hunting Flipper!

We ventured out – way out – like a gillion miles offshore – to hunt down the coveted dolphin-fish – relax, not Flipper, the beloved Dolphin mammal.

The trip out to sea provided me with a much needed onboat nap.

I won’t tell a fisher-gal tale and lie about how many fish we caught. Cuz, we didn’t catch anything for a long, long time. Maybe we caught a handful (OK, two) fish that were too-small to keep…but no more than two.

heminway halibut mustard sauce pescatarian vegetarian fish

Read it

Until the very end of the trip. At hour 5 as we were getting set to pull in the lines and head back to the dock, I hooked a dolphin-fish. The fish was a lively one, indeed. OK, it didn’t give me an ‘Islands In the Stream’ (Hemingay reference, not Kenny Rogers/Dolly Parton, look it up) battle – But, it did give a bit of a fight. When I pulled the fish into the boat, both of us, the fish and I, were exhausted. The boat guys put the dolphin into the fish well and kept it alive as we motored back to the dock.

When we landed, the guys (they’re not called ‘gillies’ or ‘fish mongers’…not sure what they’re called) filleted the fish and put 3lbs of amazingly freshly caught dolphin fish into plastic bags. They directed us to a dock side restaurant where the chef would cook our catch to our specifications. Amazing concept – like living off the land, or the sea in this case.

One of our crew ordered her fish blackened and the other two of us ordered it meuniere. Within :30minutes of catching the fish, a chef was preparing it – just as we wanted it. Very cool…

Yeah, until I realized what had happened. I couldn’t eat it. Not a bite. This amazingly fresh, fish that I, myself, had caught.

And, neither could my Florida fishing pals.

One of them looked at me and said…’What’s wrong with us?’

And with great sadness for the fish I replied…’One minute you’re swimming in the ocean and the next minute, you’re swimming in butter.’

The timing was just too tight.

So, when planning a fish dinner, I highly recommend buying your fish at WholeFoods or a good fish place…Because catching and eating is just too sad.

Halibut With Mustard Sauce (serves 4)

Tiny Kitchen Tips:

  • Prepare the marinade ahead of time as you’ll need the counter space for the rest of your prep work AND it’s good for the flavors to meld together for a bit in the fridge
  • central park fireworks food recipe dinner halibut

    Dinner Entertainment

    If there’s an unexpected fireworks display out your window AND you’ve invited gays to dinner, be prepared to keep the meal warm while the boys marvel at the lights over Central Park

  • Get a tiny whisk – it’s like my fave new thing BECAUSE 1. it’s tiny and fits well in your limited drawer space 2. it’s incredibly useful for whisking together marinades in small bowls

Ingredients:

  • mustard halibut sauce dinner food pescatarian vegetarian

    Mise En Place

    1 1/2 – 1 1/3 lbs of Halibut (for the hell of it) Cut into 4 equally sized fillets. The halibut at WholeFoods was $22.50/lb yesterday, not bad for NYC

  • Sea salt and pepper – for the fish
  • 1 TSP salt for the sauce
  • 1/2 TSP pepper for the sauce
  • 8 ounces of Creme Fraiche – I bought some at WholeFoods or you can make your own
  • 3 TBSP Dijon Mustard
  • 1 TBSP Whole Grain Mustard
  • 2 TBSP Minced Shallots
  • 2 TSP Drained Capers

1. Whisk together with your tiny little baby whisk the two mustards, creme fraiche, shallots, capers and salt / pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least :30mins

mustard halibut marinade dinner vegetarian food

Use your tiny whisk here

mustard sauce for fish recipe food vegetarian pescatarian

MMMMustard Sauce

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees

3. Line a baking dish with Reynold’s Wrap Pan Lining Paper – expensive, but I love it

pan lining paper spinach balls recipe

Shiny on the bottom, parchment on the top

4. Place the fillets skin side down on the paper and sprinkle with salt and pepper

halibut with mustard sauce pescatarian vegetarian dinner fish

See, my fillets weren’t all the same size. FAIL

5. Cover the fillets generously – more of a slather, really – with the mustardy sauce

halibut recipe dinner mustard sauce

Smothered in Sauce

6. Bake for :15 minutes…until the fish is flaky

7. Plate the fish – preferably on a sea-themed platter and spoon the sauce from the baking dish over the fish. The fish should be swimming in sauce

pescatarian recipe dinner food halibut sauce

Swimming in Mustard Sauce

8. Serve

I like fishing. I do. But, I really don’t need to catch anything and eat it. Maybe this is part of the evolution of man (woman)…We have WholeFoods. We don’t have to live off the land or the sea.

So, I’ll leave the fishing to the fisher-people. And, stick to what I know: I love a fish dish swimming in mustard as long as I didn’t find the fish first swimming in the ocean.

Baked Salmon, Or At Least I Think So

whole foods baked salmon

Simple Baked Salmon

This week there have been reports that a good percentage – or bad depending upon how you think of it – of the fish we eat, isn’t what we think it is. In NYC up to 39% of the fish tested was fraudulently labeled. Sometimes the labeling was as quasi-harmless as ‘Wild Salmon’ vs the truth that it was actually farmed.

Other mislabeling, however, wasn’t so innocent. In certain cases, tilapia was sold as red snapper. And, in the worst or most dangerous of cases, fish labeled as ‘white tuna’ was actually escolar (what is escolar???) which can cause acute gastrointestinal problems (according to Oceana officials – I’m just guessing that this Oceana is not the same Oceana Airlines from LOST).

We, as New Yorkers, should consider ourselves lucky. In Los Angeles and Boston the percentages of mislabeled fish were much greater. Boston surprised me at 48%…I mean don’t they pride themselves on their seafood? And LA was well worse at 55% – but, really, should we be surprised?…I mean, I love LA and…there’s a ton of fake stuff in LA – ’nuff said.

And, enough about that. As far as I know, I made an easy baked salmon Sunday night for my pescatarian friends.

In an apartment kitchen, baking the salmon is a good idea for so many reasons:

  • Salmon is a fishy smelling fish.
  • If you pan sear it in your tiny NYC apartment kitchen, the smell can linger for days
  • You don’t want to be ‘that fishy smelling neighbor’

So, simply baking it, is probably your best bet.

Here’s how:

Simply Baked Salmon (serves 4)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees

1. Buy what you think is salmon…About a 1 1/2 lb fillet for four people. Ask the ‘fish monger’ – or guy behind the counter at Whole Foods – to cut it into 4 equal pieces and to deskin it. This is called ‘deskinification’ – far as you know.

Actually, the NYC Whole Foods generally has pre-cut individual salmon fillets for $5.95 each.

2. Place the fillets in a pan and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil

salmon filets whole foods

Lined Up and Ready

3. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper

4. Bake in the oven for :15 minutes – or until you achieve the desired doneness. I’m not a big fan of rare salmon…and I generally err toward medium doneness

whole foods salmon fillets

Look! It’s a Seafood Themed Platter

5. Remove from oven…Garnish with some lemon wedges and serve – maybe with peas and the vegetarian pie from yesterday’s post…

peas defrosting

Peas – I always have frozen peas

I’m pretty sure what we ate was salmon…either way, it was simple and delicious and didn’t leave me with a fishy smelling apartment.

Plus, after a full day of Christmas Cookie baking (see tomorrow’s post) – and with the vegetarians coming over – simple was definitely the way to go.

In It to Win(e) It: Post-PowerBall Packets of Fish

Lo-Cal Dinner

For those who are wondering…I didn’t win the half a billion dollar PowerBall lottery last night. This really blows my retirement plan and is sort of ruining my Thursday morning. I think in order to win, you have to live in a place like Missouri or, even, apparently, Arizona. And, no, I’m not even one of the two $1million winners in New York State. Very disappointing.

Sad Losing Ticket – with two worthless matching numbers

So, I’m still – like so many – watching my pennies. Trying to use every ounce of everything in the kitchen…Staying on top of expiration dates in the cupboard and fridge…

When people come for dinner or drinks ¬†at my apartment they are charged with bringing white wine. I don’t drink white wine. Ever. Like as TSwift might say: never ever ever. Even in the summer. Even at a ladies luncheon. OK, once I drank white when I was at a holiday party at the apartment of a friend who – due to her entirely white interior decorating scheme – served only white wine. But, I didn’t enjoy it.

People Just leave Wine!

So, in the rare instance that there is left over white wine in my apartment, I try to cook with it. Left over wine is an unusual occasion – you should meet my friends.

This morning I found a half drunk bottle of Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc in the fridge. I thought about drinking away my sorrows from the PowerBall loss…but, let’s face it…It wasn’t even noon and that would just be too sad.

I also found some capers and lemons in the fridge…thyme in the freezer and, of course, frozen Whole Foods Tilapia. I’m a little obsessed with always having it on hand.

And, I’m still on my quest to lose the Sandy 15lbs.

So I made:

Tilapia En Papillote (serves 2)

OK…first and foremost, if you are using frozen fish, take it out of the freezer, remove it from the packaging, place in a baking dish, cover with Saran Wrap and store in the fridge at least 7 hours before you want to cook it.

Ill-Advised Defrosting

Now – honestly, I’ve forgotten to do this and you can just leave the frozen fish in a covered baking dish on the kitchen counter…but, for whatever reason, you’re not supposed to do it that way. Whatevs, I lived.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1. Place one Tilapia Filet in the center of a 10ish inch x 10ish inch piece of either heavy duty tin foil, or as I did on that fancy Reynold’s Wrap Pan Lining Paper: Parchment on one side, tin foil on the other. It’s like the mullet of cooking papers (business in the front, party in the back)

Fancy!

2. Sprinkle the filet with Thyme or Lemon Thyme

Thyme Sprinkles on the fish on the Parchment side of the pan lining paper

3. Layer on some capers – I love capers, they’re like salty goodness – just thought you should know

Capers On…Lemons Staged

4. Sprinkle with salt – and pepper, if you want

5. Cover the filet with lemon slices

6. Place one pat of butter on top of the lemon slices

Give ’em all a little pat of butter

7. Spoon about a TBSP of white wine over the fish – be careful, you don’t want the wine to (eeks!) spill outside of the parchment paper and be wasted!

8. Fold up the sides of the fancy Reynold’s Parchment/Tin Foil (mullet) wrap around the fish. Make sure there is space between the fish and the wrapping as you want the fish to have room to steam. And, be sure that the packet is completely sealed.

NOTE: if you see the pros do this – they create a perfect half moon shaped packet… I’m just not that artistically skilled or creative. And, you can get the same effect with any shaped packet.

No Points for Style

9. Repeat with three other filets

10. Put the pretty (or not so pretty) packets on a rimmed baking tray into the oven and bake for :12-:14 minutes depending upon thickness of fish

11. Carefully remove the fish from the packets, plate and serve

Pretty Pescatarian Plate

So, with my losing PowerBall ticket I won’t be dining at Perse or jetting off in my private plane to St. Bart’s. Nope. I’ll be hoping that I can continue to count on my white wino friends to leave just a few tablespoons of wine in my fridge to dress up a meal…or two. And, I’ll continue to buy PowerBall and MegaMillions tickets…Cuz, you gotta be in it to win it!