HOW TO PAN COOK FISH

MORE OFTEN THAN NOT I PAN COOK MY FISH.  I BUY FILLETS OF STRIPED BASS, SNAPPER,  SWORDFISH, BRANZINO, OR COD, A THIRD TO HALF A POUND EACH.  McCALL'S MEAT AND FISH, WHICH HAS STORES IN HOLLYWOOD AND SANTA MONICA, OFFERS A LIMITED SELECTION OF SUSHI-GRADE FISH; MOST, RESTAURANT PORTIONS WITH THE SKIN ON ONE SIDE.   THE SKIN KEEPS THE FISH MOIST AND ADDS TO ITS FLAVOR.  COOKED SKIN SIDE DOWN, THE FISH DOESN'T STICK TO THE PAN.  I DON'T TURN THE FISH OVER.  INSTEAD, AFTER BROWNING THE SKIN I TOSS IN SOME HERBS AND A HUNK OF BUTTER, ALTERNATELY, BASTING AND COVERING THE FISH TILL IT IS COOKED THROUGH.  THIS COMBINATION OF STEAMING AND BUTTER-BASTING INFUSES THE FISH WITH FLAVOR WITHOUT DRYING IT OUT.  YOU CAN NOW QUIT WHILE YOU'RE AHEAD AND PLATE THE FILLETS AS IS.  BUT WHY WASTE ALL THOSE CRUNCHY BROWN BITS IN THE BOTTOM OF THE PAN?  TOSS IN SOME CHOPPED SHALLOTS OR SCALLIONS, COOK BRIEFLY, THEN DE-GLAZE THE PAN WITH A FEW TABLESPOONS OF WHITE WINE, WATER OR A SQUEEZE OF LEMON JUICE.  TO GIVE YOUR SAUCE A SHEEN, TURN OFF THE HEAT AND BEAT IN A COUPLE OF TEASPOONS OF BUTTER.  THIS WILL THICKEN THE SAUCE.  SPOON IT OVER THE FILLETS AND SERVE.  

 4 FISH FILLETS, SKIN ON
 3 SPRIGS OF FRESH THYME
 1 SHALLOT
 CHIVES OR PARSLEY FOR GARNISH
 1 LEMON CUT IN WEDGES FOR GARNISH
1

DRY THE FILLETS WITH PAPER TOWELS. (USE THE BACK OF A KNIFE TO SQUEEGEE OFF THE SKIN SIDE.)

PEEL AND TRIM SHALLOT. MINCE AND RESERVE.

HEAT FRYING PAN OVER MEDIUM HEAT. ADD A SPLASH OF OLIVE OIL.

WHEN THE OIL STARTS TO SMOKE, SALT AND PEPPER THE FISH. CAREFULLY LAY THE FILLETS IN THE PAN SKIN SIDE DOWN. SHAKE THE PAN SO THE FILLETS DON'T STICK. CONTINUE SHAKING GENTLY FOR ANOTHER MINUTE. THEY SHOULD SLIDE AROUND THE PAN.

REDUCE THE HEAT TO MEDIUM-LOW AND COOK FOR A MINUTE OR TWO, DEPENDING ON THE THICKNESS OF THE FILLETS.

TOSS IN THE THYME SPRIGS. THEY'LL CRACKLE A BIT WHICH IS GOOD. ADD 3 TBSPS OF BUTTER AND AS SOON AS IT MELTS START BASTING THE FISH. BASTE FOR AROUND 30 SECONDS.

COVER THE FISH WITH A LID. COOK COVERED FOR 30 SECONDS. UNCOVER AND BASTE. CONTINUE THIS WAY TILL THE FISH IS DONE: TEST BY INSERTING A PARING KNIFE INTO THE THICKEST PART OF THE FILLET FOR A FEW SECONDS, THEN TOUCHING IT TO YOUR BOTTOM LIP. IF THE BLADE IS WARM, THE FISH IS DONE.

PLATE THE FISH.

SAUCE: TOSS IN THE CHOPPED SHALLOTS. COOK FOR 30 SECONDS, STIRRING WITH A WOODEN SPOON. POUR IN 1/2 CUP OF LIQUID (WHITE WINE, WATER, CHICKEN OR FISH STOCK, SQUEEZE OF LEMON. CONTINUE STIRRING AND SCRAPING UP THE BROWN BITS TILL THE SAUCE HAS REDUCED AND THICKENED.
TURN OFF THE HEAT AND STIR IN 3 TSPS OF BUTTER. SPOON OVER THE FILLETS AND SERVE.

 4 FISH FILLETS, SKIN ON
 3 SPRIGS OF FRESH THYME
 1 SHALLOT
 CHIVES OR PARSLEY FOR GARNISH
 1 LEMON CUT IN WEDGES FOR GARNISH
1

DRY THE FILLETS WITH PAPER TOWELS. (USE THE BACK OF A KNIFE TO SQUEEGEE OFF THE SKIN SIDE.)

PEEL AND TRIM SHALLOT. MINCE AND RESERVE.

HEAT FRYING PAN OVER MEDIUM HEAT. ADD A SPLASH OF OLIVE OIL.

WHEN THE OIL STARTS TO SMOKE, SALT AND PEPPER THE FISH. CAREFULLY LAY THE FILLETS IN THE PAN SKIN SIDE DOWN. SHAKE THE PAN SO THE FILLETS DON'T STICK. CONTINUE SHAKING GENTLY FOR ANOTHER MINUTE. THEY SHOULD SLIDE AROUND THE PAN.

REDUCE THE HEAT TO MEDIUM-LOW AND COOK FOR A MINUTE OR TWO, DEPENDING ON THE THICKNESS OF THE FILLETS.

TOSS IN THE THYME SPRIGS. THEY'LL CRACKLE A BIT WHICH IS GOOD. ADD 3 TBSPS OF BUTTER AND AS SOON AS IT MELTS START BASTING THE FISH. BASTE FOR AROUND 30 SECONDS.

COVER THE FISH WITH A LID. COOK COVERED FOR 30 SECONDS. UNCOVER AND BASTE. CONTINUE THIS WAY TILL THE FISH IS DONE: TEST BY INSERTING A PARING KNIFE INTO THE THICKEST PART OF THE FILLET FOR A FEW SECONDS, THEN TOUCHING IT TO YOUR BOTTOM LIP. IF THE BLADE IS WARM, THE FISH IS DONE.

PLATE THE FISH.

SAUCE: TOSS IN THE CHOPPED SHALLOTS. COOK FOR 30 SECONDS, STIRRING WITH A WOODEN SPOON. POUR IN 1/2 CUP OF LIQUID (WHITE WINE, WATER, CHICKEN OR FISH STOCK, SQUEEZE OF LEMON. CONTINUE STIRRING AND SCRAPING UP THE BROWN BITS TILL THE SAUCE HAS REDUCED AND THICKENED.
TURN OFF THE HEAT AND STIR IN 3 TSPS OF BUTTER. SPOON OVER THE FILLETS AND SERVE.

Ingredients

 4 FISH FILLETS, SKIN ON
 3 SPRIGS OF FRESH THYME
 1 SHALLOT
 CHIVES OR PARSLEY FOR GARNISH
 1 LEMON CUT IN WEDGES FOR GARNISH

Directions

1

DRY THE FILLETS WITH PAPER TOWELS. (USE THE BACK OF A KNIFE TO SQUEEGEE OFF THE SKIN SIDE.)

PEEL AND TRIM SHALLOT. MINCE AND RESERVE.

HEAT FRYING PAN OVER MEDIUM HEAT. ADD A SPLASH OF OLIVE OIL.

WHEN THE OIL STARTS TO SMOKE, SALT AND PEPPER THE FISH. CAREFULLY LAY THE FILLETS IN THE PAN SKIN SIDE DOWN. SHAKE THE PAN SO THE FILLETS DON'T STICK. CONTINUE SHAKING GENTLY FOR ANOTHER MINUTE. THEY SHOULD SLIDE AROUND THE PAN.

REDUCE THE HEAT TO MEDIUM-LOW AND COOK FOR A MINUTE OR TWO, DEPENDING ON THE THICKNESS OF THE FILLETS.

TOSS IN THE THYME SPRIGS. THEY'LL CRACKLE A BIT WHICH IS GOOD. ADD 3 TBSPS OF BUTTER AND AS SOON AS IT MELTS START BASTING THE FISH. BASTE FOR AROUND 30 SECONDS.

COVER THE FISH WITH A LID. COOK COVERED FOR 30 SECONDS. UNCOVER AND BASTE. CONTINUE THIS WAY TILL THE FISH IS DONE: TEST BY INSERTING A PARING KNIFE INTO THE THICKEST PART OF THE FILLET FOR A FEW SECONDS, THEN TOUCHING IT TO YOUR BOTTOM LIP. IF THE BLADE IS WARM, THE FISH IS DONE.

PLATE THE FISH.

SAUCE: TOSS IN THE CHOPPED SHALLOTS. COOK FOR 30 SECONDS, STIRRING WITH A WOODEN SPOON. POUR IN 1/2 CUP OF LIQUID (WHITE WINE, WATER, CHICKEN OR FISH STOCK, SQUEEZE OF LEMON. CONTINUE STIRRING AND SCRAPING UP THE BROWN BITS TILL THE SAUCE HAS REDUCED AND THICKENED.
TURN OFF THE HEAT AND STIR IN 3 TSPS OF BUTTER. SPOON OVER THE FILLETS AND SERVE.

HOW TO PAN COOK FISH
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