Lemony sauce adds zing to fish, pork and more

I had to nix a meal of frozen fish sticks on a recent grocery-store tour.

The exercise and its “$10 Meal Challenge,” covered in a previous post, requires participants to prepare a meal for four people using every food group for the specified budget — and by purchasing primarily whole foods. That means nothing that comes ready to heat up and eat straight from a box. Definitely no breaded or battered protein.

So when the participant intending to prepare fish sticks asked what she should get instead, I led her over to the meat and seafood section, which has a variety of fresh and frozen items. To keep the cost as low as possible for her protein purchase, we picked a 1-pound package of flounder fillets.

I grew up eating flounder on the South Coast, where it used to be much more plentiful in the local rockfish catch. It’s delicious battered and deep-fried for fish and chips, of course. But the snowy white flesh is versatile and benefits from the least fuss possible. Just a quick saute in butter with a topping of toasted, slivered almonds is lovely. A very light panko breading also makes a crunchy contrast.

Although this recipe calls for only a light dusting in flour, it does feature my favorite sauce for panko-breaded whitefish — or panko-breaded anything, for that matter. Lemon-caper sauce made with lots and lots of Meyer lemons from a friend’s tree earned raves from my husband and sons over the holidays.

Because Meyer lemons are sweeter than regular ones, I doubled the quantity of juice that I usually would add, plus grated a couple tablespoons of zest into the sauce. And boy, did it have a zing! My 2-year-old son licked his plate and demanded more “sour sauce.”   

Best of all, the sauce comes off as an elegant finish, when it couldn’t be simpler to make. I actually prefer to bring the wine, lemon juice, capers and herbs to a gentle simmer before whisking in the butter. Recipe testers for the Detroit Free Press recommend also serving the sauce with shrimp or lobster. I like it with pork schnitzel, like we made on Christmas.

Tribune News Service photo

Whitefish With Lemon-Caper-Wine Sauce

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 pounds firm whitefish fillets

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup white wine

1/3 cup capers, drained

3 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped

In a shallow pie plate, mix the flour, salt and pepper. Coat the fish on both sides with flour mixture. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add fish fillets and cook on both sides until lightly browned. Transfer fish to a platter and cover with foil.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, combine the wine, capers, butter, lemon juice, parsley and thyme. Cook over medium heat until liquid is reduced by half, for about 4 minutes. Spoon sauce over fish and serve with rice pilaf or potatoes.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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