Monday, June 09, 2008

Roasted Striped Bass with Chive and Sour Cream Sauce (Page 305)


  • Date: Sunday, June 1, 2008 -- 8pm
  • Location: Somerville, MA
  • Kitchen: Matty's Apartment
  • Dining Companions: Matty, Angelica, Ana, Jenny, and Kenny
  • Recipe Rating: B-

This recipe was another one in the all-fish-all-the-time plan for the summer. (I have been doing a bit better with my plan lately -- have you noticed? Oh, probably not since I haven't blogged about most of them yet!) Anyway, there was no striped bass to be found, but The Book listed salmon as an acceptable substitute, so I went with salmon instead. This one is hard to grade -- it wasn't good, but it was partly my own fault. The main reason this dish was disappointing was because the fish was over-cooked. The cooking preparation was this: the pieces of salmon got cooked in a skillet, skin side down, for 3 to 4 minutes to crispy up the skin. Then the fish got transfered to a baking pan and roasted in a hot oven until cooked through. The upside of this cooking method is that it does indeed produce crispy, golden brown skin. I am a huge fan of all sorts of crispy skin products, and this crispy skin was pretty good (at least for fish skin, which is inherently less exciting than crispy chicken or pig skin!). The downside is that since fish cooks so quickly, that 3 or 4 minutes does a good part towards cooking the fish, but only on one side. The fish is then roasted, which cooks all parts of the piece of fish, and the end result is that one side is more cooked than the other. This makes it difficult to avoid having some over-cooked fish. Why not just flip the fish over and finish it in the pan? Then you could cook it much more evenly. It's a mystery...

So, the fish was already going to be slightly overcooked in parts, but then I introduced some user error too. I was a bit careless in my preparation and didn't check the fish as it was roasting until it was too late. Whenever I am have anything in the oven, I always, ALWAYS check it after it has cooked for 2/3 to 3/4 of the indicated cooking time. Oven temperatures vary, pieces of meat vary, etc... The cooking times in recipes often don't mean much. Recipes should really say: Cook until desired doneness. But that is maybe a little vague for most people. Anyway, I am a stickler about checking things early. And I did check this fish early. The problem was that since I swapped salmon for the striped bass I should have considered that the cooking time could be dramatically different. By the time I checked it, the fish was overcooked, and I felt like an idiot. Obviously I should have checked it earlier! Whoops. So let's pretend that I had been more careful and the fish was as nicely cooked as is possible with this method. How was the dish as a whole? It was just ok. The sauce was fine -- sour cream and chives blended together with a little lemon juice. It didn't taste bad, but it also wasn't anything to write home about. The sauce didn't particularly enhance the flavor of the fish. If the fish had been cooked properly I would have been perfectly happy eating this dish, but it isn't one that I would make again.

Here is the recipe.


Eileen said...

why go through the extra step of roasting but not finish cooking in the pan is indeed strange.... Too bad the result wasn't good....

Teena said...

Yeah it was very mysterious... if I made it again I would definitely just finish it in the pan.