Fresh shad and shad roe arrived in the markets three weeks ago, just in time for the Lenten season. It is a rich-tasting fish and is always sold as fillet because it takes a real pro to remove the numerous tiny bones that run through it.
Tomorrow is the fourth Friday of Lent and I’m sure many people would like some tasty recipes for fresh fish and shellfish. I still wonder why so many people would eat frozen fish from a box when a plethora of fresh fish is available in stores and supermarkets.
Like chicken, fish adapts to any number of ingredients and sauces. Still, many of us fall into the fish rut. We like shrimp for shrimp cocktail or cooked as scampi and tossed with linguine. I am always looking for new ways with shrimp.
Fin fish can be fried, saut�ed, broiled, poached and roasted. I haven’t prepared fish "en papillote" in a long time. You simply cook each fillet in a piece of aluminum foil and serve. I’ll give you a recipe for salmon, but any fillet will do.
Keep a few things in mind when buying fresh fish and shellfish. Fish should smell slightly salty like the sea. It should never have a "fishy" aroma. Look for fillets that are glossy. Never buy fish that is dull and dry in appearance; it’s a sure sign it has been sitting around too long.
Count on at least 6-8 ounces of fish fillet per person. It’s best to cook it right away, but it can be placed in the refrigerator overnight. I never like to freeze fish because I think it affects its flavor and texture. Sometimes you can end up with a rubbery piece of fish.
Any fresh vegetables in season would enhance the following fish dishes. Fresh asparagus is at a very good price right now, between $1.69-$2.99 a pound, depending on the market. Steamed white rice also would go well with the fish.
The best advice I can offer is to buy fresh fish from a reputable fish store or supermarket that has a high turnover. Make friends with your fishmonger, as well. Many are knowledgeable and can steer you to what’s in season and help in preparation.
Here are recipes for fish for Lent.
Carrot Fettuccine with Spicy Shrimp
From Sara Moulton Cooks At Home
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled with tail intact, deveined, rinsed and patted dry
2 large shallots, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
10 large carrots, about 1-1/2 pounds, cut into ribbonlike strands with a vegetable peeler, tough core discarded
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup thawed frozen peas or blanched fresh peas
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring, for one minute. Add the shallots, garlic, ginger and pepper flakes, and cook until the shrimp just turn pink, about two minutes more. Transfer to a bowl.
Add the carrots to the skillet and cook over high heat, stirring, until barely tender, about five minutes. Transfer to the shrimp bowl.
Add the wine to the skillet and boil until it is reduced by half. Add the cream and stock. Return to a boil and boil until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the shrimp, carrots and peas to the pan and simmer through, about two minutes. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
2 shad fillets, each about 3/4 pound
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heaping tablespoon of tiny capers
Handful of grape tomatoes, at room temperature, chopped
Handful of fresh Italian parsley leaves, snipped with scissors, for garnish
Lemon wedges for serving
Preheat the broiler.
Place the shad in a broiler pan. Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Broil the shad, without turning, until the top is nice and brown, about six-eight minutes, depending on the temperature of your broiler. Check for doneness by inserting a sharp knife in the thickest part of the shad. It should be slightly translucent inside.
Place the fish on a serving platter. Scatter the capers and chopped tomatoes all over the fish. Sprinkle the fish with the snipped parsley. Serve with lemon wedges.
Salmon en Papillote
4 fillets of center-cut salmon, each about 6-8 ounces
1 red pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1 yellow pepper, seeded and cut into strips
2 shallots, peeled and sliced
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Have ready four pieces of aluminum foil, each about 1 foot long. Place 1 fillet of salmon on each of the four pieces of foil. Scatter the peppers and shallots evenly among the four fillets. Top with olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
Wrap the aluminum foil like a square package. Place the packages on a cookie sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes. Check for doneness by opening one of the packages and inserting a sharp knife into the thickest part of the fish. It should be slightly translucent inside.
Place the packages on four plates, allowing each guest to open his or her package.
Note from Phyllis: There are numerous variations for this dish. Try adding some fresh basil or chopped tomatoes. Sliced scallions, minced garlic and ginger, and sliced baby bok choy, along with a drizzle of soy sauce, would give the fish an Asian flair. Be creative with the types of vegetables you add to the fish fillets. Sliced mushrooms would impart a heady flavor, while sliced celery or even jicama would provide a bit of crunch.