Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Blue Fish with Saffron Caper Aioli
Lewis and I have been vacationing in Cape Cod for over 10 years. B.C. (Before Children) we used to car camp, first in Wellfleet and then in Truro. However after Sebastian was born I could not face the idea of camping, not even the luxury tent car camping we always did. My children are the kind who are into everything. I often joked that I could hire them out as a baby proofing service, set them down on the floor and within 5 minutes they could find the most dangerous item in any room. Camping was out because I could not figure out how to baby proof the world, really the whole idea did not sound relaxing to me. Now we stay in a cottage with a tiny kitchen that I can only assume is well stocked for hot dogs and boxed mac and cheese.
Every year I bring a kitchen box with my most needed kitchen tools. With the addition of my non stick saute pan, silicone spatulas, oven mitts, tongs, favorite knives, spices, pepper mill and anything else I remember to toss in the box, I can cook happily in even the tiniest of kitchens with the most motley assortment of pans. However 3 years ago I had a new food quandry for vacation. The previous summer, while on vacation, I read Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma and decided I was done with supporting the meat found in most supermarkets. I would no longer buy meat from CAFO (contained animal feeding operations). At home this was a simple decision to follow through on. My favorite local store carries several options and I could always find something local in the reduced price section. In addition I could easily buy a share in an animal directly from the farmer, further reducing my cost.
However the supermarket franchises in Cape Cod are not like City Market, so I was left arguing with myself over how to approach meat while on vacation. I was not up for the task of bringing it with me, however I also knew I would not enjoy a week of CAFO meat. The guilt alone would ruin the taste. In the end I did not think of a solution until we went to the beach. Somehow as a landlocked Vermonter I totally forgot seafood is local and wild in Cape Cod.
The other night I bought bluefish and was plotting in my head how to prepare it, trying to remember a tasty onion and lemon sauce I made last year. I realized it was time to give up on that dish and move on. Last year I added herbs in 4 inch pots to my "kithchen box," although technically they travel stuffed in a corner of the car, not in the box. I always bring saffron as it goes so well with seafood. Still plotting and thinking (and reading many bluefish recipes that called for spreading mayonnaise or mayonnaise and sour cream on the fish before baking). I began by soaking some of my capers in water to temper their saltiness and to saute some onions.
Thinking of the mayonnaise preparations I suddenly remembered the saffron aioli my friend Cheryl went on about trying at The Bouillabaisse Bash I was not invited to. I decided I could make a version that would be just right to spread on the fish before baking. The end result was delicious, it had to have been as Julian asked me today if I would make it again, tonight. Sebastian, on the other hand, tried a bite, tasted it slowly and after careful consideration decided he did not want any. (Trust me, it tasted far better then it looks in this photo. I decided this dish was too good not to post, even though none of the photos are good. If nothing else I need to record the recipe for myself).
Blue Fish with Saffron Caper Aioli
1 Tbsp capers (preferably preserved in salt not brine)
scant 1/2 cup mini onions or shallots, sliced thin
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup white wine (I used riesling)
1/4 tsp saffron
1 Tbsp Champagne vinegar
3 sprigs lemon thyme (or use regular thyme)
1/4 cup sour cream (I did not have sour cream so I used half and half with 3/4 tsp Champagne vinegar mixed in and then allowed to stand for 10 minutes to thicken)
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 lb fresh bluefish
Preheat oven to 350°
If using salt preserved capers, soak capers in a small bowl of warm water to leach out some of the salt while prepping the other ingredients. In a large saute pan melt butter and add EVOO, saute mini onions or shallots until tender and translucent. Add wine, capers, saffron, vinegar and thyme to onions and reduce until it is a syrupy glaze, about a few Tbsp, basically until reducing any further means you will not be able to remove it from the pan. (This took me a little less then 10 minutes, perfect for letting the half and half mixture become sour cream).
Mix sour cream, mayonnaise and reduced saffron glaze in a small bowl. Season aioli with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Line a baking dish with foil and place the fish on it skin side down, season the fish with salt and freshly ground black pepper and pour the aioli over the fish, spreading it all over the top. Bake uncovered until cooked through and tender. I baked mine for approximately 20 minutes. Plate and serve.