On our last big vacation, my husband and I drove the Ring Road all the way around Iceland. In a small fishing village in the Western Fjords I had my best meal of 2017 at Tjoruhusid, a no-menu restaurant in a barn by the water which charged by the head. Once inside, you seated yourself at a long table and grabbed a plate. The chef had prepared a table of perfect sides: fluffy basmati rice, a crunchy Napa cabbage salad with vinaigrette, creamed barley with tomatoes, and slightly sweet mashed potatoes, and would bring huge skillets of fish to the table, plopped down on trivets as they were cooked - whatever the freshest catch, prepared to the chef's whim. The spread included a tomato-based sherried fish soup, catfish in North African curry with dried coconut, halibut in lime butter with cilantro, rockfish with hoisin glaze and cucumber, and the dish that inspired this recipe, a halibut with capers and grapes. As my husband doesn't care for capers, this version substitutes my favorite green olives in a sauce with brown-butter, vermouth, and red grapes. Served with slightly sweet mashed potatoes, this dish takes me right back to the fjords. Enjoy! —Emily | Cinnamon&Citrus
Yukon Gold potatoes
kosher salt, plus more for seasoning fish
black pepper, plus more for seasoning fish
filets of white fish (I used walleye)
1 1/2 teaspoons
red seedless grapes, halved
Castelvetrano green olives, crushed with the side of a knife to pit and half
Fill a large stock pot with cold water. Cube the potatoes into equally sized pieces about 1'' and drop in the cold water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and boil about 15 minutes, until fork-tender when tested. When ready, drain well, return to the pot and mash (I use an electric hand mixer) with 2 tablespoons butter, heavy cream, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, 1/2 tablespoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. Adjust the seasoning to your taste (the Icelandic mashed potatoes have a distinct pleasant sweetness but you can omit the sugar if you do not care for it).
While the potatoes cook, make the fish. Pat the fish fillets dry and season each side with salt, pepper, and dried tarragon. Place the flour in a shallow dish and season with more salt, pepper and dried tarragon, then dredge the seasoned fish fillets in the flour, lightly coating each side and shaking off excess.
In a large sautee pan with high sides, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat until slightly browned. Add the fish fillets and cook about 4 minutes each side, until browned and cooked all the way through. Remove the fillets to a plate and loosely tent with foil to keep warm.
Add 2 additional tablespoons of butter to the saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until translucent, about 3 - 5 minutes. Add the Vermouth and stir vigorously to deglaze the pan. Add the grapes and olives to the pan, cover and cook an additional 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the fresh tarragon. Place the fish fillets on top of the mixture and cover to keep warm while you plate.
Serve a scoop of mashed potatoes as a bed, topped with a fish fillet with the olive-grape pan sauce spooned over the top. Enjoy!