This is a one-pot fish dish that I’ve cooked repeatedly whenever I can get fresh supply of white fish. This Hugh Fearnley-WhittingstalI’s recipe from River Cottage Every Day may look ho-hum, but it’s anything but. It’s loaded with sensible techniques worthy of our time in perfecting. To start, a cast iron pan is my preferred cooking pan because you need intense heat.
Roasting potatoes is not as easy as roasting other vegetables. Potatoes have to be cooked through inside and the exterior should be crisp, like the French fries–ideally. My roasted potatoes used to take on a leathery texture, but not anymore.
Roasting potatoes to perfection takes a little extra effort. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall tells us the right way to achieve that–parboiling the potatoes first and roasting them in the oven.
This is the scoop on crispy potatoes: Boil the potatoes then rough them up before roasting them. Roughing the peeled potatoes adds surface area and builds up a dehydrated layer of gelatinized starch on the exterior, creating that extra layer of crispness as potatoes roast.
I didn’t know that!
The recipe calls for russet potatoes, peeled and cut into smaller pieces. Alternatively, there is a shortcut I use: replace russet with small new potatoes. The amount of prep work involved is much less. After parboiling the new potatoes, I smashed them before placing them in the oven. The idea is similar: increase the surface area on the potatoes, rendering them crusty while the inside stays fluffy and moist.
After roasting the potatoes for 45 minutes in a 400°F oven, you’ve got a pan with sizzling hot oil, the perfect medium for cooking a fillet of well-seasoned fish. I have experimented using different varieties of white fish and potato. When you get it right, it’s satisfying!
Another important reminder: create a space in the middle of the pan for the fish to cook and to get crispy. There were a few times I forgot to do that. However, the fish still stay tender and juicy, but no crust. Cooking time for the fish is brief, about 10-15 minutes. It pays to standby and be watchful in order to get the fish cooked just right. Fresh fish is expensive; an extra dose of TLC gets the job done.
This dish is linked to the potluck gathering this week at IHCC.
Roast fish fillets with roast potatoesPrint Recipe
- 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 to 4 tablespoons sunflower, peanut or canola oil, or goose fat
- about 1 pound fish fillets
- a few bay leaves
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Put the potatoes in a pan, cover with cold water, and add a good pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, simmer for 8 minutes, then drain well and return to the empty pan to steam for a few minutes.
Put the oil or fat in a large roasting pan (or cast iron pan) and place in the oven until smoking hot. Meanwhile, generously season the potatoes in their pan, then rough them up: either hold the lid on and give the pan a little shake or use a sharp fork to scratch their surfaces.
When the oil is smoking hot, add the potatoes. Baste them well with oil, then return the pan to the oven for 45 minutes, giving them a stir about 30 minutes. By this stage, the potatoes should be almost done – i.e. have a golden crust all over but look as if they could still take a bit more crisping up. Create a space in the middle of the pan for the fish.
Add the fish to the pan, sprinkle it with salt and pepper, then tuck in the bay leaves. Return to the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the fish is just cooked. Serve at once, with pea purée or mushy squash and by all means, ketchup – or roasted tomato sauce.
Adapted from River Cottage Every Day by Huge Fearnley-Whittingstall