April 11th, 2010
Salt and pepper.. don’t fuck it up. Best recipe ever! It’s a little like the instruction to photographers (attributed to various people) “f8 and be there.” In both cases, the second half of the instruction is the important part.
This, to me, is one of the ultimate salt and pepper recipes.
Hill often requests orange fish. We buy whatever looks good. Most often arctic char (pictured above), but also steelhead trout, king salmon, or even rainbow trout. The method works the same for all of them. It’s tremendously simple, and may not sound like anything special, but try it and it will become your default way for cooking orange fish.
Liberally salt and pepper the skin side. Also generously sprinkle with mustard seed.
Preheat the oven to.. HOT.
Get an oven safe heavy bottomed pan nice and hot, just cover the bottom with oil, and slide the fish in skin side down. Shake the pan a little to make sure it doesn’t stick. When the meat at the sides of the fillet starts to get cloudy, transfer the whole operation into the oven. DON’T FLIP THE FISH! and here’s the don’t fuck it up part: DON’T OVERCOOK* Pull the fish out a little before it’s done and transfer it to a cutting board to rest for a moment. Divide and serve.
You can serve it with either side up. The skin becomes a delicious crispy chip that pulls away from the meat very easily. We often eat it covered in pan roasted brussel sprout leaves. Also great with a dill buerre blanc. Pretty soon ramps will start showing up at farmers markets.. This fish with sauteed ramps on top is too many beautiful!
Please try it!
* “don’t overcook!? but how will I know??” I’m not sure that I can give a very satisfying answer here. I generally just push on it gently with a finger, and when it gives just the right amount of resistance (or lack of it) I know it’s done. You’ll figure it out. The first couple of times, you can stick a knife in and see what the color is like in the fattest part of the fillet. Orange fish goes opaque when fully cooked. You want the very center to NOT be fully cooked.. still a little darker orange and translucent. Whether you want it to or not, it will continue to cook on its way to the plate, so you need to pull it a little early. Overcooking the stuff is definitely the easiest way to fuck it up. And if you bought a decent piece of fish, undercooked isn’t so bad at all!