For a change from all the desserts, here's a quick dinner post. No, it's not salmon. It's a fish that's described as a cross between salmon and trout. It's Arctic Char. And all you salmon-haters will love it. It seems that people either love salmon or hate it. I, for one, love it ... but I will eat pretty much anything that's from the sea. (Although I've given up lobster for moral reasons -- for further info, just read David Foster Wallace's Consider the Lobster.)
The keys to cooking a restaurant-quality fish dish at home are -- no surprise here -- buying the best piece of fish you can and not over-cooking it. Those two things really do make all the difference. I've learned about both the hard way.
Another key for me is to keep it simple. I buy the best quality fish available here in little ol' Charlotte, North Carolina, (shout-out to Clean Catch Fish Market) and then I usually cook it very simply.
A little butter, a little olive oil, some fresh sage leaves thrown in, salt & pepper on both sides, and that's it. On the stovetop in a non-stick frying pan, a little pan-searing, and this other thing I do. It's totally unrefined and uncouth, but since I'm a total amateur and still have an awful lot to learn about cooking, I kind of recreate the roasting/baking atmosphere of an oven by putting a lid on the pan for a good portion of the cooking time.
I like keeping it on the stovetop where I can keep a close watch. I know if I were to put it in the oven, I would be opening the door and checking on it every 30 seconds -- and heating up the already-hot kitchen -- and prolonging the whole process.
And I've finally learned to take it off the heat BEFORE it has fully cooked throughout. When it still looks a bit raw on the inside, off it goes. It'll continue to cook for a few more minutes off the heat.
This Arctic Char was buttery, melt-in-the-mouth soft in texture and so delicious.
The potatoes were very colorful (purple and pink) little potatoes that I got at the local farmer's market. The general rule is the more color, the better, nutrition-wise and usually flavor-wise. Although I gave hubby quite a scare when he saw them go into the oven (un-white potatoes?!?). He was skeptical, but pleasantly surprised. He cleaned his plate. (Thanks for trusting me, hubby.)
For roasting the potatoes, I loosely followed the Mustard-Crusted Roast Potatoes recipe from Molly Stevens' All About Roasting. I tossed the chopped potatoes with a mixture of: some Dijon mustard (it won't taste mustardy), olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, chopped fresh rosemary, a pinch of crushed red pepper, and salt & pepper. I baked (I guess "roasted" is the proper term) them in a 400-degree oven for about 40-45 minutes.
As Brad Gilbert put it as he watched Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf hitting together on a tennis court for the first time, "Beautiful":
I wasn't lying ... pink and purple potatoes:
Life is good. Actually, the knife wasn't really needed: