October 2007

Galley Proof

A Remarkable Dish Of Fish

From Chef Henri Hurrier

Caviar is like gold — very expensive. The gray roe of the white fish and the red caviar from the salmon cost less, but the quality is less also.
The best caviar comes from the former Soviet Union and Iran. The quality is always judged by the grandeur of the eggs — the sterlet and the sevrugaare, the finest of all.

Another test would be the amount of salt; less is better.
Caviar makes great hors d'oeuvres and canapes, as well as an accompaniment for oysters on the half shell,

For the latter, place the caviar around the oyster on the shell; serve with a little fresh lemon juice, toast or dark Russian rye bread. My favored drink to go with it is a brut vintage champagne or an excellent imported vodka.

The best caviar comes from the sturgeon, which is endangered due to overfishing. If, however, you are ever lucky enough and legally able to catch this great fish, there are many ways to prepare it.

You can make steaks or filets. If you make steaks, first you skin the fish and cut a 2- to 3-inch steak, wrap the steak in bacon held with a toothpick.

You will need —

  • chopped shallots or chopped red onions,
  • about 2 cups of Chablis,
  • unsalted butter,
  • green peppercorns,
  • 3/4 to 1 cup of heavy cream, depending on the shallots and number of guests,
  • sea salt and pepper to taste,
  • beurre manier (flour and butter mixed together to thicken the sauce), and
  •  brandy or cognac to finish the sauce.

To prepare —

  •  put  onions or shallots in the bottom of deep pan and set the fish on top,
  •  add fresh thyme and rosemary and the pepper corns
  • cover with aluminum foil and bake in a 350 oven for about one hour or until the fish is done and flaky.

To serve — 

  • set fish on a hot platter,
  • remove thyme and fresh rosemary from the pan,
  • place pan over a burner at a reduced heat for about 5 minutes
  • add cream and beurre manier if needed,
  • strain sauce
  • add one soup spoon of brandy or cognac and pour over the fish;
  • this will go well with small red parsleyed potatoes and a thinly sliced cucumber mixed with a lemon juice, sugar, and dill.