WHITEFISH PROVENCALE … ROXY’S BISTRO STYLE

Yesterday I received a note from a blog reader in Quebec.   She needed a good recipe for consomme with roasted bone marrow.  I searched through my recipe file  and found the recipe.  It was one we  made in our little French bistro, but the recipe produced gallons of consumme.    Patricia, this will take some work.  I’ll post it when I have it reduced to a manageable size for a home kitchen.

I do have a  delicious sauce recipe that was a particular favorite of  Chef  Husband.   Squid Provencale was one of the most   popular appetizers  in  our restaurant.    Tiny, tender  squid  simmered  briefly in this Provencale sauce.  It was served with our own crusty bread .

This recipe for the sauce for Squid Provencal is my  favourite way to add simple, bright Mediterranean flavour to any firm, meaty whitefish.  This dish is spectacular enough for a special occasion but easy enough for a quick weeknight dinner.  It is also an easy recipe to adapt if you are cooking for one or two people.  Left over  sauce is equally delicious tossed with linguine.  It keeps well for a couple of days in the refrigerator.

This method is excellent for any whitefish:  halibut, hake, haddock, sole, cod, flounder or tilapia.

WHITEFISH PROVENCALE    serves 4

a splash of extra virgin olive oil

4 fresh halibut or other whitefish fillets, 5 to 6 oz (150 to 175 g) each

a sprinkle or two of sea salt and freshly ground pepper

4 large ripe local tomatoes (if they are truly flavorful) or one 28 ounce (796 ml) can of whole tomatoes Italian if possible

1 large onion, finely minced

4 large cloves of garlic, finely minced

a sprinkle of red pepper flakes

1/2 cup (125 ml) of capers, drained,    1/2 cup (125 ml) of pitted kalamata olives roughly chopped,      1/2 cup (125 ml) of pitted green olives roughly chopped

2 tablespoons (30 ml) of balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon (15 ml) of minced fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of dried

Preheat a large, heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add a splash of olive oil and saute the onions and garlic with a sprinkle of sea salt and red pepper flakes, until they are translucent.  Add the tomatoes, capers, olives, vinegar and oregano.  Bring the mixture to a vigorous simmer,  and cook about  ten or fifteen minutes or until the sauce is reduced and thickened.  Remove the sauce from the pan and set aside.  I like to put my sauce in a small saucepan on a low heat to keep it warm.  Rinse out your skillet and dry.

Preheat your skillet over medium-high heat.  Add another splash of olive oil, enough to cover the bottom of the pan with a thin film.

Pat the halibut fillets dry with a piece of paper towel and then lightly season them with salt and pepper.

Carefully place the fillets in the hot oil and sear on both sides, patiently browning them until they are golden brown and beautiful.  They don’t have to cook all the way through at this point.

Remove the fillets from the pan and add your tomato mixture.  Bring it to a vigorous simmer, then return the fish to the pan and lower the heat a bit.  Nestle the fillets into the tomato mixture and continue cooking until they are cooked through, JUST A FEW MINUTES LONGER.  Serve the fish with several generous [spoonfuls of the tomato mixture.

Sometimes I add a head of chopped fennel to this dish,   and substitute the zest and juice of a lemon for the balsamic vinegar.  Enjoy!!

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