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July 23, 2002

Fast, happy fish
Posted by Teresa at 09:58 PM *

1/4 stick of butter, pref. salted
1-1/2 lb. beautiful fresh halibut filet
salt, pepper, white pepper, paprika

Wash your filet and pat it dry. Melt the butter in a serviceable frying pan over a medium flame. When it starts bubbling, lay your fish in the pan skin-down. Give it a quick sprinkle with the salt, both peppers, and a good dose of paprika. Gently push it around the pan with the back of your fork a few times while it’s cooking.

When the cooked layer is about a third of the way through the filet, give the pan a shake to loosen things up, and turn the fish over. Take a fork and remove the skin. Sprinkle on a little more of the salt and spices. Remember to keep pushing the filet around in the butter every once in a while.

When it’s starting to look done clear through but isn’t quite yet*, turn it over again. Be careful it doesn’t break apart on you. If things are going right, your filet should have a slightly crusty reddish coating where the spices have fried onto its surface, and be pure white in all the little places where it’s starting to split.

Turn the fire off and slap a lid on the pan. Wait three to five minutes, then serve.

____________________________
*Test: Cooked fish loses its plasticity.

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Comments on Fast, happy fish:
#1 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2002, 08:16 AM:

Fresh fish should be eaten fresh, so I fixed it again this morning using the other half of the halibut filet. It doesn't take much longer than fried eggs.

#2 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2002, 10:49 AM:

I think halibut is one of the most under-appreciated fish out there. I used to work at a Boston pier fish market when I was in college. We had everything from Alaskan King crab legs to Scottish smoked salmon, Boston Blue, haddock, cod, shad roe, salmon trout, red snapper, striped bass. And halibut.

I used to cut the huge ones with this frightening looking speed blade saw that looked like something out of a bad Batman movie. I always loved halibut more than any of the other more expensive exotic fish.

Thanks for the recipe. Will print this out for home...

#3 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2002, 12:37 PM:

This one was lovely. I hadn't gone in intending to buy the whole fish, but it suddenly seemed like a good idea, especially when the fishmonger said he could throw in an icepack so it wouldn't spoil before I could get it home.

How big do they get? I've never seen a halibut in its state of nature.

#4 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2002, 02:57 PM:

We used to get fairly big ones. Up to three feet long and two to three feet wide. (And that was without their heads...). Mr. Athanas would buy a bunch to deep freeze for the winter.

#5 ::: Adina Adler ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2002, 09:26 AM:

This looks like a lovely recipe, but I just noticed--salted butter? Really? I bought some salted butter by accident a few months ago, and I think I ended up throwing most of it away, because it tasted awful.

#6 ::: Christopher Hatton ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2002, 12:35 PM:

I think halibut is one of the most under-appreciated fish out there.

Is that what went wrong at Cheney's company?

I bought some salted butter by accident a few months ago, and I think I ended up throwing most of it away, because it tasted awful.

Wow, matter of taste. I can't stand UNsalted butter: bland, bland, bland. De gustibus non disputendem est, or some similarly-pronounced thingie with different letters in it.

#7 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2002, 12:56 PM:

Surely salted butter is the default. Unsalted butter is something you buy for very particular uses, usually dessert recipes, like making chocolate mousse or something. Once, when I was still small enough to imagine I might have some talent in the practical joking line, I played an April Fool's trick on my grandfather by salting the butter. Would have been funnier if he had noticed any difference.

#8 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2002, 01:04 PM:

Here in the Wimpy Zone, salted butter is the default. I have to make sure to get unsalted when I'm making ammonia cookies, otherwise, they just aren't right.

Salted works better on bread, to my taste buds.

#9 ::: Adina Adler ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2002, 04:59 PM:

To me, unsalted butter tastes like butter: sweet, rich, creamy; whereas salted butter tastes like salt and strange things that the salt has managed to pull out of the air. I buy unsalted butter for everything, because it's easy to add salt if I need it. I do have to be careful, because many markets share the general belief that salted butter is the default.

#10 ::: Christopher Hatton ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2002, 06:01 PM:

Here in the Wimpy Zone, salted butter is the default. I have to make sure to get unsalted when I'm making ammonia cookies, otherwise, they just aren't right.

Um. Ammonia cookies?!?!?! What on earth are those? Snackage for your friends from Jupiter? Or is that just a name?

If it's just a name, what've they got in them? And why are they called that?

As Nimoy was forced to say again and again, fascinating.

#11 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2002, 10:00 AM:

Google is your friend. Try "Baking Ammonia." While they are baking, they smell exactly like you think they would.

You may be freaking out about using such a noxious compound in cooking. Don't. One of the most common ingredient in cooking is made half of a metal that reacts violently with water, and another that was used to kill thousands during WWI.

#12 ::: Christopher Hatton ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2002, 02:13 PM:

OK, I admit my ignorance. I did look on Google, and came up with lots of refs.

No, it's not the "noxious compound" thing (though your analogy leaves something to be desired). After all, pretzels are (or used to be) made with lye. It's the idea of eating cookies after filling my kitchen with the smell of stale pee. Or Windex. It's the association, not worries about the compound.

Not that I would hesitate to eat the cookies if someone else baked them. Unless they still smelled like that, in which case I would squick big time.

#13 ::: Barbara Nielsen ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2002, 04:21 PM:

In older Pennsylvania Dutch cookbooks the two substances are called butter and sweet butter. This is so much more satisfactory as a delineator. To call something "un-" makes it sound lacking (which of course it is, because I have made butter for more years than I'll admit to, and we always salted it.) To me sweet butter is a grease used for cooking.

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