Pan seared fish question...

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Joined Aug 24, 2018
Hey, when you baste fish in a pan with melted butter, is there a way to turn the excess fish fat and butter into a sauce to pour back over the fish?

After you crisp the skin in olive oil, say you're tossing lemon, butter, garlic, pepper, and thyme over salmon (unless you shouldn't be...i don't know). Can you do anything with the juices left in the pan to make a sauce to drizzle back over it? Any ideas?
 
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Yes. But, be sure to sear the fish with an oil with a high smoke point such as extra virgin olive oil (you'll see it referred to from time time as the acronym "EVOO"). When the fish is nearly done, add cold butter, your herbs etc and then baste. Adding the butter and herbs toward the end prevents them from being burnt and rendered useless.

Remove the fish, add some wine and reduce or an emulsifier such as a good brown mustard and whisk. Orange juice and/or orange zest works beautifully. Dill, tarragon, sage, lemon thyme, rosemary all work beautifully with fish. Experiment. Have fun.

Bonus tip: :)

For a crispy skin, gently push the sides of the fish together skin side up to form a bulge or a bow in the center and make a series of slits in the skin with a sharp knife close together about an 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep. (The slits are running across the filet not lengthwise) Season the slits however you wish. Just put it in the pan skin side down and don't touch it. Let it get good and crispy. The closer the slits are together, the crispier the skin will be. Flip to get some color on the filet side, baste and you're done.
 
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Or plate the fish, sprinkle with herbs, pour out the excess fat, drop in several Tb cold butter, and swirl until a sauce forms. Pour over the herbs.
 
68
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Joined Aug 24, 2018
Just tried it a couple different ways. That worked really nice! On the first try, I think I used too much butter though.

Adding the butter and herbs toward the end prevents them from being burnt and rendered useless.

Ugh! I didn't realize that was why so many of my other dishes lacked flavor though I was using almost double the herbs the recipes called for. Wow. Thanks.

add some wine and reduce or an emulsifier

If you go the wine route, always white for fish? Or are there instances you would use reds?

Lets assume we've pulled the fish out of the pan, lets assume we're going to use white wine, butter, and herbs. Would you ever add onions? Would you ever add creme?

If I use thyme...leave it on the stick and then pull out the stick? Or peel it off the twigs before adding it to the sauce?
 
68
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Joined Aug 24, 2018
pour out the excess fat

I've had questions for some time about how much I should be discarding. You want some of it in there for flavor...right? I know this is impossible to critique without seeing the pan size, the other ingredients or knowing measurements, but is there any general tell tale signs that you used too much fish grease to begin with when you start to form the left over grease into a sauce?
 
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Just tried it a couple different ways. That worked really nice! On the first try, I think I used too much butter though.



Ugh! I didn't realize that was why so many of my other dishes lacked flavor though I was using almost double the herbs the recipes called for. Wow. Thanks.



If you go the wine route, always white for fish? Or are there instances you would use reds?

Lets assume we've pulled the fish out of the pan, lets assume we're going to use white wine, butter, and herbs. Would you ever add onions? Would you ever add creme?

If I use thyme...leave it on the stick and then pull out the stick? Or peel it off the twigs before adding it to the sauce?

First question, white or red with fish? For a sauce, typically white wine. Choose the dryness and acidity carefully. To drink, I enjoy a light, fruity Pinot Noir with fish like salmon or swordfish. With white fish, I prefer mid-dry whites from cold climates such as Gruner Veltliner (Austria) and Riesling (Germany or New York).

To the second question, onions? No. Shallots? maybe/yes, depending on the fish. Cream? Yes. In fact, one of my favorite sauces to serve with salmon is a Norwegian butter sauce made with lemon zest, cream and a metric sh*t ton of butter. :)

Third question about thyme, I prefer to remove the leaves from the stalk, give them a slight grind in my hand or fingers and drop em in unless I'm using a bouquet garni, which is a bung of herbs tied with a string.
 
1,342
868
Joined Mar 1, 2017
I've had questions for some time about how much I should be discarding. You want some of it in there for flavor...right? I know this is impossible to critique without seeing the pan size, the other ingredients or knowing measurements, but is there any general tell tale signs that you used too much fish grease to begin with when you start to form the left over grease into a sauce?
The only thing you should be making into a sauce is the leftover butter. Pour off any excess cooking oil that's left over and replace it with pats of cold butter like chrislehrer chrislehrer suggested. Add your herbs and away you go.
 
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68
15
Joined Aug 24, 2018
First question, white or red with fish? For a sauce, typically white wine. Choose the dryness and acidity carefully. To drink, I enjoy a light, fruity Pinot Noir with fish like salmon or swordfish. With white fish, I prefer mid-dry whites from cold climates such as Gruner Veltliner (Austria) and Riesling (Germany or New York).

To the second question, onions? No. Shallots? maybe/yes, depending on the fish. Cream? Yes. In fact, one of my favorite sauces to serve with salmon is a Norwegian butter sauce made with lemon zest, cream and a metric sh*t ton of butter. :)

Third question about thyme, I prefer to remove the leaves from the stalk, give them a slight grind in my hand or fingers and drop em in unless I'm using a bouquet garni, which is a bung of herbs tied with a string.
First question, white or red with fish? For a sauce, typically white wine. Choose the dryness and acidity carefully.
Ah! The low quality cooking wine I was using may have let me down a tad. I'll be careful not to go overboard but I'll pay more attention to this!
 
68
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Joined Aug 24, 2018
The only thing you should be making into a sauce is the leftover butter. Pour off any excess cooking oil that's left over and replace it with pats of bold butter
I meant the fish oils....I seemed to have a good bit of grease accumulating when cooking a fatty fish like trout (which was one of the more recent times I attempted to turn the remaining liquids into a sauce). But maybe it was water or too much olive oil...ill pay close attention to this next time also! :)
 
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Ah! The low quality cooking wine I was using may have let me down a tad. I'll be careful not to go overboard but I'll pay more attention to this!
Cooking wine is bad stuff. You can get decent white wine to cook with for around $10.
 
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Cooking wines are loaded with salt so nobody will want to drink it. That way it can be sold as a non-liquor by any store and not subject to state liquor tax.
 
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I sometimes pour the sauce left over from a dish into a container then put it in the refrigerator to put on my meats for subsequent dinners.
 
2,491
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Joined Oct 9, 2008
I've had questions for some time about how much I should be discarding. You want some of it in there for flavor...right? I know this is impossible to critique without seeing the pan size, the other ingredients or knowing measurements, but is there any general tell tale signs that you used too much fish grease to begin with when you start to form the left over grease into a sauce?
You're waaaay over-thinking this.

The fat in the bottom of the pan is probably scorched and smells fishy. Ick. Fat carries flavor, yes, but a lot of flavors coming off your fish aren't so nice.

If you want to be really particular about it, which as you cook more you'll realize is mostly not a good idea, let the pan sit off heat about 30 seconds to a minute after you remove the fish.

Regardless, gently dump all (ALL) the fat out. Don't scrape, but dump it. What's left -- i.e., the brown bits -- is good flavor, specifically glaze and toasted butter solids.

Return to heat, toss in fresh butter, swirl to deglaze the bits and create a beautiful sauce, and pour over the fish.

Bonus points:
1. Heat the fresh butter until just barely brown and sizzling (this one ain't so easy, BTW)
2. Pour the butter over minced or chiffonaded fresh herbs
3. Do both and hear the herbs sizzle
4. Squeeze a dab of fresh lemon juice over the whole thing
5. If you lightly dust your trout in flour first, shaking off excess, and use parsley for the fresh herbs, and pour on the just-browned butter, you have truite meunière, one of the many glories of French cuisine. It's my son's favorite dish. Give it a try.
 
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