The delicate flavor of white-fleshed fish, for me, is best when cooked simply. In fact, the most important thing is seasoning the fish properly and making sure not to overcook it, which is a good reason to salt it an hour before you want to cook and why it makes sense to finish cooking or re-warming the fish in the oven.
This dish is a great recipe for entertaining because you can brown the fish without cooking it completely and then when you are ready, you can finish it up in minutes in the oven. I also find that it is a great dish for date night at home or a special occasion dinner for two, such as an anniversary. Since it is a special occasion dinner you will probably want to serve wine. A great pairing with this dish is Uproot's Sauvignon Blanc.
Finally, the fish you use is up to you. I love Dover sole, but it is hard to find; you are going to have to skin it, and then bone it too. Flounder is an excellent alternative, as is halibut. —thirschfeld
Dover sole, skinned, or other flatfish. A 22- to 24-ounce whole fish, once cleaned, will feed two.
thyme or savory sprig
Extra-virgin olive oil
multi-colored small carrots
medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
garlic clove, peeled and crushed
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
In This Recipe
Heat the oven to 350 F. Salt and pepper the fish on both sides.
Place the herbs into a mortar. Using the pestle grind, and bruise the herbs into a coarse paste. Add a pinch of salt and a grind of freshly ground pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and mix to combine. Set the oil aside.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet (non-stick if you are more comfortable with it) large enough to hold the fish easily and comfortably. When the oil is very hot but not smoking, add the fish. Brown the fish on both sides -- it doesn't matter if it is cooked through or not -- then remove it to an oven proof tray.
Clean out the skillet and place it back onto the stove. Slide the fish, and two oven-proof plates, into the oven to finish cooking or warming it. Add a glug or two of oil to the sauté pan, add the crushed clove of garlic, then add and sear the zucchini. Season it with salt and pepper, then turn it and do the same to the other side.
Plate the fish, put the zucchini on the plate attractively, and using a mandolin or by slicing the carrots thinly, garnish with the carrots. Drizzle some herb oil over the fish filets.