Ok. There comes a point where the yummy leftovers really do become: urgh-leftovers, again? We needed a change. With just bits and pieces of Thanksgiving food still sitting in the oversized and, now, underfilled refrigerated storage containers, Rob and I have been craving a change. Especially a healthy one.
But creating healthy, yet creative, interesting, and tasty dishes can sometimes be tricky and require some thought. No one wants to eat twigs and berries (and I’m not referring to cinnamon sticks and blueberries, cause those are just darn delicious). And many tasty proteins are not the leanest. So while chatting with a great friend yesterday, I expressed my Tryptophan slump. What should I make that healthy, easy, and comforting? She lead me in the direction of her go-to fish dish she and her husband love.
With my new found inspiration, I drove the long and winding 2-lane road in the cold, cold rain to pick up the freshest fish Coos County has to offer. When I got to the city of Charleston, a teeny, tiny Fishermen’s town, I was met with bright lights on the beautiful boats, a reminder that one of the finest seasons was upon us – CRAB season! Today, December 1st, is the first day of the new crab season, and last night all the crab boats were parked like LA cards on the 405 freeway just waiting to get underway. Their crab pots were expertly stacked and loaded, and seagulls were acrobatically dive-bombing hoping to get a rogue scrap of bait. In a couple of weeks, the finest, sweetest, Dungeness Crab will be available to devour, no butter needed. Saliva-inducing crab aside, last night’s fish goal was Dover Sole.
I had originally planned on using Halibut, but it is out of season, and the only Halibut available had been previously frozen (there’s nothing wrong with previously frozen fish, but in this area, if you can get something fresh, it’s better to take the bait. Ha!). So seeing these beautiful , uncloudy, thin filets of Sole, I went for them. I also splurged for a piece of in-house smoked Chinook Salmon that an uncanny flavor cousin only to bacon.
While paying, I couldn’t help but be distracted by a younger couple asking to taste a piece of smoked Sturgeon. Sturgeon? The prehistoric fish of modern culinary confusion? I, of course, strike up a conversation seeing the opportunity to ask the question that is usually directed at me in these parts, I ask, “Are you two visiting the area?”
A super nice couple, they explain they are from Chicago (which explains why they are a super nice couple) and on a road trip seeing as much as they can of the U.S. My first inclination was to ask if they were lost, being that Coos Bay isn’t exactly a national sight to put on the Bucket List. But as the guy started singing, “On the Road Again,” I couldn’t help but smile and say, “That’s really cool!”
After giving some tips on where to go for dinner and what to see at night, and a reluctant negative response to their question about whether the rain would top, I made my way home. Hopefully wherever that couple is today, they fondly remember their Southern Coastal Oregon experience, and hopefully enjoyed the Sturgeon. :o/
Getting home, I channeled Gen (my friend with the fish idea) and proceeded to bake this lovely, flakey, buttery fish. I added my own twist by using chili and lime, and topped the filets over super-roasted sweet red onions and fennel. We had some leftover Pinot grape Rose wine from the weekend, which paired perfectly with the heat, citrus, and caramelization. Everything was so delicious and healthy, and so not anything like turkey.
Tonight will be another light dish, and Gen’s idea definitely pulled me out of my recipe slump. I’ve already started conjuring up a healthy bunch of light ideas to relieve the holiday food-hangover. But it probably won’t last long – Christmas is only 25 days away! Bring on the sugar cookies!
- 2 lbs. Dover Sole filets
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 c Panko bread crumbs
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp basil leaves, finely chopped
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- zest of one lime
- juice of 1/2 lime, save other 1/2 for garnish and/or to drizzle over cooked fish
- 1 red onion, halved and sliced
- 1 fennel bulb, sliced
- 3 tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a sheet tray, mix red onion and fennel with 2 tbsp olive oil and s&p. Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring twice, until caramelized and browned.
Meanwhile, in a saute pan, melt butter, and add Panko bread crumbs, red pepper flakes, garlic, and lime juice. Stir over med-low heat until bread crumbs are coated and slightly browned.
In a baking dish, pour the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil, and layer the Sole on the bias over each other, completely filling the dish. Sprinkle the lime zest over the fish with a bit of s&p. Pour the bread crumb mixture over the fish, and place into same oven as the roasting veg. Bake the fish for 15-20 minutes, until flakey and bread crumbs are browned (Note: the fish will shrink a bit and let off juices, so the fish will slightly braise in its own liquid, keeping it really moist).
Serve fish over a pile of caramelized veg, and squeeze a bit of lime over the top.