Porchini dusted Chilean Sea Bass (from Bob’s Seafood), roasted acorn squash, wilted red chard
It would probably be a whole lot more exciting if I learned to make more sauces, but it would also be a whole lot more fattening for a Monday night dinner as well.
Which brings me to another point: let’s briefly talk about equipment.
Get yourself a big spoon.
I should have taken a picture of these spoons next to an ordinary one to illustrate the point further, but the spoon on the left is (I kid you not) the Gray Kunz Sauce Spoon.
I’ve no idea if they still make them, but I bought it from JB Prince in probably 1998 and they still make them. It was built to Gray Kunz exact specifications, and as ridiculous as that sounds, the spoon really is rad. It’s very deep for it’s nine inch length and holds two and a half tablespoons of liquid.
If you dont’ feel like ordering that, don’t sweat it, you don’t have to buy a super fancy spoon–though it is only about $9–and the spoon on the right is also excellent. I don’t know precisely what shop it came from as I got it from the Racquet Club Ladue, but it was definitely from a local restaurant supply store.
Anyway, as I’m the cooking equivalent of a gear-head, I have quite a few cooking specific spoons of which four are about this size. As the name of the first spoon implies, if you’re not feeling up to the culinarily-chic spatula techniques you see today, you can use them for saucing plates as a late-90’s-technique shout-out. But they’re also great for plating things like risotto thanks to their depth and lack of the long cumbersome handles of other large spoons.
However, this is another example of why you want a big spoon, and the reason I’m bringing it up:
Notice the color on the sea bass? It’s a result of having a scorching hot pan to sear the fish, but it’s also a result of butter and the technique utilized with the spoon.
Maybe one of the chef-readers will chime in and inform me that I’m a hack, but my technique for cooking fish goes something like this:
Turn oven up very high (I literally turn it all the way up)
- Pat fish dry with paper towels and season it. (Patting it dry helps to prevent it from sticking or not browning nicely.)
Heat saute pan until uber-hot
Put oil in uber-hot pan and watch for it to sort of shimmer
Once shimmering, put fish in pan and do not touch it until it releases (If it never releases your pan wasn’t hot enough when you put the fish in. Better luck next time.)
When released, flip fish and sling in a knob of butter (in tonight’s case it was the bonus black truffle butter courtesy of Kevin Willmann).
When the butter melts and begins to turn brown, grab your spoon, tip your sauté pan back towards you so the butter runs to your side, and begin ladeling the butter over the top of your fish. You will literally see the color change before your eyes as it takes on that nice golden color you long for.
When satisfied with the color, stick the fish in the oven until your desired temperature is reached. (If you’re not immediately plating be sure to take it out of the pan when you remove it. Fish overcooks fast and the pan will do the job in no time short.)