When I get elbow room in the kitchen, anything can happen, occasionally
including a right-palatable dish.
And so it was on a recent evening in my kitchen.
I had thawed a sizeable chunk of a striped bass filet fetched home from
New Jersey’s Great Bay. Din-din was long since past, but I didn’t want
to take the chance of losing that beautiful piece of white, flaky fish
(scales removed, skin on).
What to do? Baking or frying would have been fine, I thought, but how
about steaming? Why not?
Skin side down, I placed the filet in a nine-inch skillet (not iron)
with cover, and covered it with half a cup of finely-chopped onion and
a handful of crumbled dried hen-of-the-woods
mushroom. Then with a few small pats of Blue Bonnet scattered about the
top, I poured in three ounces of liquid (50-50 water/wine mix). (Incidentally,
in my kitchen the commercial is true: “Everything is better with Blue Bonnet
After salting and peppering my creation liberally, I put on the cover
and turned the stovetop burner to medium to get things going. Once I had
steam, I turned the heat down to simmer and walked away for 45 minutes.
On my return, I burned my finger removing the cover but I was greeted
by a beautiful, tasty piece of fish. The onions were well cooked, the mushrooms
were soft and chewy, and the white flakes of fish dislodged with a fork
OK as is, I told myself. Suitable for serving with veggies and a salad.
But I was not finished.
With a large metal turner, I removed the filet from the skillet and
placed it on a small plate. Then, with the turner, I gouged the fish skin,
onion and mushroom pieces, and whatever else was stuck to the bottom of
the skillet. That done, I sprinkled in three tablespoons of flour, and
more salt and pepper. When the flour was turning pasty, I stirred in another
two ounces of wine/water mix and let medium heat make a sauce (gravy) while
I stirred it constantly.
When the sauce reached the consistency of my choice (not quite as thick
as gravy), I poured it over the filet in a shallow baking dish with top.
After invoking C’s P (cook’s prerogative), I taste-tested my creation
on some Keebler Club crackers (the official cracker in my kitchen). I described
it in three words: Fan tas tic! I would microwave it the
next day and serve it for din-din with the aforementioned veggies and a
green salad, or maybe sliced, chilled tomatoes with cottage cheese.
That part of the plan hit a snag. Next morning, when my tummy grumbled,
I wondered how my fish dish would taste cold on a Keebler. By this time
the sauce had jelled a bit, but was still “spready.”
Forget the fish dinner. Meet my new chilled appetizer.