Lemons and roasted fish: a delicious weekday dinner

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When I saw a copy of Danielle Alvarez’s cookbook, “Always Add Lemon,” I knew I had found a soul mate in the kitchen.

This title is also my mantra, and a dash of lemon, my secret weapon. It’s the finishing touch that brightens up almost anything I cook, whether it’s a plate of roasted vegetables or a platter of sizzling sausages grilled until crispy.

I keep a small bowl of seeded quarters in the fridge. That way when my braised lentils or pasta pan needs a boost, I can squirt in lemon juice without having to fish out the pits. My daughter, the family salad shop, uses them every night for dressing. She crushes a quarter at the bottom of the salad bowl, adds a pinch of salt, a few peppercorns, then whips in a good olive oil. (Vinegar can seem harsh when you’re used to the sweet flavor of lemon.)

These handy wedges add a zipper where you least expect it. I squeeze them in BLTs, in chicken noodle soup, on buttered and salted celery that I nibble on for a snack. And no glass of seltzer in the house is complete without a lemon floating among the ice cubes.

It’s an obsession that Ms. Alvarez captures perfectly in the introduction to her book.

“A little lemon will change everything,” she wrote. “My chefs joke, ‘Did you add lemon? Should be inscribed on my gravestone. This is the question I constantly ask when the plates leave the kitchen. Sometimes a dish is all it takes for a dish to really sing.

Even if you don’t necessarily subscribe to this lemon philosophy in everything, adding it to fish, especially fish drizzled with brown butter, is essential.

In Ms. Alvarez’s book, the whole, bone-in scallion is adorned with lemon slices, roasted, then topped with a brown butter sprinkled with capers. Naturally, more lemon juice enhances the sauce at the end.

So far, the dish is very classic. But she takes it a step further and smears the top of the fish with nori oil for an umami kick. This dish is bright and deep, with an easy silky texture.

In my version, I replace the whole fish with fillets. Then, instead of toasting nori sheets to make the oil, I swap crumbled nori seaweed snack sheets. The whole thing is as good as the original, but easier to put together on a weeknight.

All you need is a salad (preferably lemony) to complete the meal.

Recipe: Lemon fish with brown butter, capers and nori

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