Potato Crusted Scrod – Haute Cuisine at Home

I love to eat out.  I love the formality, I love the decadence of not doing any prep work in the kitchen, and – quite frankly – I love restaurant food.  It is usually more refined and precise than the rustic fare I make at home.  But…why can’t I be refined at home?  I’m classy, ain’t I?
Don’t answer that.
One of my favorite restaurant dishes is potato crusted fish.  I just love the contrast between earth and sea, crispy and tender, salty and sweet.  So – I looked up Anne Burrell’s recipe, and – with a few variations – went to town!
First, Marmie sliced up some red potatoes VERY THINLY.  You should really use a mandoline or a food processor for this.  

They must absolutely be see through slices.  Yukon Golds would work here, too.

Now lay your fish out on a plate.  Though Anne uses halibut, we got some fresh scrod at the farmers market that day.  This is delicately flavored fish is much less thick than the halibut that she uses, so we had to adjust the cooking time a little.  I think any fish would taste good this way though, as long as it is lighter and flaky…don’t know if swordfish or marlin would work very well this way.

Now you layer the potatoes on top of the fish like they are the scales – overlapping a LOT.  Each potato should almost totally cover the one before it.  That will help the crust set as the starches in the potato release and make the slices adhere to one another.

Then you drizzle some olive oil on the potato covered fish and rub it all over to make sure the potatoes each have some lubrication.  Then pop the fish in the fridge for one hour.

In the meantime, slice and wash some leeks as shown here

And put them in a pan or pot with enough chicken or fish stock to just cover the top of the leeks.  Set the pan to boil sans lid, and when the liquid is almost all evaporated, taste a leek.  If they have literally “melted” together into a sweet, jam like substance, they are done.  If they have any sort of bite, add some more stock and continue to boil away.

After an hour take the fish out. Put it next to the leeks because that is what I did.

Now you are going to set an oiled or buttered skillet on medium high heat, and when the oil starts to sputter and ripple, you lay the fish in potato side first.

  I found that speed is essential here-the faster you do it, the less chance things will fall apart.
And that really IS what she said.
I was TOTALLY making restaurant quality food!  That and getting free samples at Costco are some of the most exciting things I have ever experienced.

While the fish sizzles away, you want to zest a (washed) lemon with a zester or microplane.  Be careful not to get any of the white pith, which is bitter.  You want to gently scrape it with your chosen instrument so just the yellow skin comes off.  Zest has all of the flavor of lemon with none of the diluting properties-that’s why I zested instead of just juicing it.
Mix the zest with chopped dill and tarragon.
Why don’t they make lemon – dill – tarragon perfume?

By this time, our fish was actually done.  The potatoes were not, but the fish was so thin that it cooked quickly.  If you use a thin fish like we did, you can do as we did and take the fish out when it turns opaque and put it to the side.  Otherwise, just ignore this step.

When the potatoes look like this, flipping time has arrived!

We did it with two spoons (and if your fish is thicker, you may not have to flip it at all-you would just leave the fish on the potatoes till the fish was cooked, and see if the potatoes were cooked through by then.  If not, flip the potatoes as you see here, after removing the cooked fish).
This is a truly beautiful sight.

Now take out the potato crusts and lay them over the fish fillets.  If some of your crusts fall apart when you take them out, just lay them over the fish anyway and no one will care or be able to tell the difference.
Why no, you are not dining at Per Se, although the dish does look that professional.
Clearly, I was totally stoked by how awesome this looked!
And now you put about 1/3 cup white wine in a pan and whisk in cubes of cold butter, one by one, till the fat is all incorporated and the sauce has slightly thickened.  This is making what is known as beurre blanc.

Now add the leeks.

And the zest/herb mixture (I also tossed in a bundle of thyme that i just removed out at the end).

After about 5 minutes and the addition of salt and pepper, fish out the thyme and it’s time for the fish!

This was a meal for the AGES!  The fish was flaky, delicate, and moist beneath it’s crispy, golden brown potato topping.  The beurre blanc was delicate, rich, acidic from the wine, tart from the lemon, and herby from the seasonings.  The only thing that I would have added to this beurre blanc was perhaps a spoonful of capers-the brininess of the capers just work so well with the brininess of the fish.  This was really the most elegant, elevated form of fish and chips imaginable.  Served with a green salad, this is a meal that I would be thrilled to have in a restaurant.  Of course, I would also be thrilled to serve it to you at Chez Fritos and Foie Gras.
  

Comments

  1. Joanne says:

    I'm not going out to eat anymore. I'm just going to come over to your place. Fine dining…at it's finest.

    I never thought about how this dish melds earth and sea together. It's very poetic. Especially after a glass or two of fine dining wine :P

  2. JustinM says:

    I'm glad you're realizing this – if you're willing to put in some effort, it's not hard to make something every bit as good, if not better, than a restaurant. Better than Per Se? No, probably not, but better than most.

    (PS – I mailed your polish today. The post office was out of the supplies and small boxes I usually get there. Wait til you see my makeshift packaging job!)

  3. Fritos and Foie Gras says:

    @Joanne-or a glass or two of fine margaritas? When are we going to get together lady?? ;)
    @Justin-it has been a long time coming, but i have finally seen the light! And yes i am so excited to get the nail polish AND see the packing job!

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