What the black bean cake did for the Santa Fe Bar and Grill in Berkeley, this paillard of fish did for Stars in San Francisco. I developed it with the same purpose: to present, at the opening of a restaurant, a fast, new, easily cooked, foolproof, and easily understood dish. With a little advance chopping and slicing, you can serve this winning dish in five minutes.
Use sturgeon and garnish the center of the cooked fish with a tablespoon of spiced crabmeat, cooked fish in green goddess mayonnaise, or preserved tuna in sour cream mixed with ancho chili puree. Or use radish salad as on the sea bass. And spoon over the fish your choice of a flavored cream from a puree of chipotle, mixed herbs, or a ginger puree. Or cut open an avocado, dice it, add a teaspoon of cumin and 2 tablespoons lime juice, and put that in the center of the cooked fish.
- 4 (2-ounce) slices boneless and skinless fillet of salmon, tuna, halibut, grouper, red snapper, sturgeon, sea bass, or albacore, no thicker than 1/4 inch
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup fish stock, recipe follows
- 1 (2-ounce) piece fresh ginger, peeled, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2/3 cup chopped tomatoes
- 12 sprigs fresh cilantro
- Freshly ground black pepper
The best fish to include in a light stock to be used for cream and butter sauces are sole, turbot, halibut, and trout. For fish soups and hearty stews, use whatever non-oily fish bones and heads you have: the fished already mentioned plus bass, grouper, snapper, haddock, etc.
Despite what most cookbooks tell you, fish stocks should be brought to a boil as fast as possible so that the albumin coagulates and rises to the surface for skimming.
Simmer for no more than 30 minutes or the stock will tasty "fishy" and stale.
The vegetables have to be finely chopped so that they cook entirely in this short time, and the acid from the wine is necessary if you are to use the stock for making butter sauces, but add it only after the vegetables have given up most of their flavor (it impedes this process if added at the beginning).
Any leftover stock can be frozen for up to a month.