No food library is complete without a truly great fish cookbook. Thankfully, chef Ben Pollinger’s latest masterpiece, School of Fish, teaches the skills you need to from “occasional salmon maker” to confident seafood cook.
This dish reminds me of the old-style haute cuisine recipes that fascinated me when I was beginning my culinary training, dishes in which cooked fish was made to mimic the look of a live whole fish, decorated with “scales” made of pastry or cucumber slices. Here’s a simplified, contemporary version decorated with sliced potato. It’s not hard to do, and it brings a little restaurant elegance to your dinner table. You can cook the chard ahead and reheat it. Or preheat the oven and get the fish all ready, start the chard, then put the fish in the oven. The dorade and the chard will be ready at the same time.
- fine sea salt
- 8 large fingerling potatoes, peel-on, sliced into coins about 1/8-inch thick, rounded ends discarded
- 4 (6-7 ounce) dorade fillets, boneless and skin-on
- freshly ground black pepper
- 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 bunches (about 1 3/4 pounds) Swiss chard, stems trimmed, rinsed in a sinkful of cold water, changing the water until no grit remains
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- For the dorade, line a baking sheet with paper towels.
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.
- Add 3 tablespoons salt and the potato slices.
- Simmer until the slices are cooked through, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
- With a skimmer or slotted spoons, remove the slices to the paper towel-lined baking sheet, arranging them in a single layer. Set aside to dry as much as possible.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Line a second baking sheet with aluminum foil and brush the foil with about one-third of the butter.
- On the baking sheet, sprinkle the fillets on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Let stand 5 minutes to allow the seasonings to penetrate.
- Pat the fish dry with paper towels and arrange the fillets skin side down in a single layer.
- Brush the fillets with butter, using about half of what you have left.
- Arrange the potato slices over the fillets in overlapping rows so that they look like fish scales.
- Brush the "scales" with the rest of the melted butter; set aside while you get the chard going.
- For the chard, cut the leaves from the stems.
- Stack a few leaves at a time. Roll tightly like a cigar and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips; repeat until all the leaves are cut. Set aside.
- Cut the stems on a thin bias; set aside separately from the leaves.
- Place a 12-inch skillet over medium heat.
- Add the olive oil and garlic and cook without coloring, stirring often, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
- Put the fish in the oven and bake until the fish is cooked through and the potatoes are lightly browned at the edges, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the chard stems to the skillet, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook without coloring, stirring often, until the stems are softened, 5-7 minutes.
- Add the leaves and 2 tablespoons water.
- Cook, stirring constantly, until the leaves wilt, about 2 minutes more.
- Divide the chard among 4 serving plates.
- Place the fillets on top, angling the fillets a bit so that they rest half on the plate, half on the chard.
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