I’ve always loved cooking for people. I rarely cook just for myself. This is partly because cooking is an activity with a very specific end result. When I cook, I create something. And that’s something I want to share. Often it’s something I want to show off. I’ll be the first to admit that humility is not an ingredient in my cooking.
So, I’ve always loved having dinner parties. Even when I lived in apartments with impossibly small kitchens, I’d have friends over for dinner. Out of a half size oven and a workspace the size of school desk, I have produced multi course meals for eight people. When Steve and I met, we found our love for food was mutual. So, the dinner parties continued and became more elaborate. We started pairing wines with every course. We printed menus.
The only problem with such extravagant affairs has been that at times we ended up spending more time in the kitchen than at the table with our friends. So, over the last few years I’ve adjusted our menus, opting for dishes that can be prepared ahead of time and served easily and quickly. This recipe is one of our favorites. It takes 15 minutes to put together but the result is delicious and impressive.
Fish is especially difficult for dinner parties. It so often requires cooking right before eaten, it smells up the kitchen, and it can easily be overcooked. By poaching it gently in the oven in olive oil, this recipe takes care of all of those problems. In fact, I’ve often left it in the oven for 30 minutes past what the recipe says and I’ve never had any problems with it. The fish always comes out tender, moist, and flavorful.
If you are worried about the amount of olive oil, don’t be. The fish absorbs almost none of it. And in the end, you can strain the olive oil and keep it in the fridge. Use it whenever you cook anything with seafood. It will have only the slightest hint of the fish, capers, and lemons.
Oven Poached Fish in Olive Oil - Slightly adapted from Epicurious.com
Makes 4 servings
1/4 cup capers, rinsed
2 – 2 1/2 lb (1-inch-thick) skinless, firm, white flesh fish fillets (such as halibut or chilean sea bass)
1 1/2 large lemons, very thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
About 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil (enough to cover the fish)
Preheat oven to 250°F.
Chop half of capers and pat fish dry. Sprinkle fish with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and let stand 10 minutes at room temperature. Arrange half of lemon slices in 1 layer in an 8-inch square glass baking dish and arrange fish in 1 layer over lemon. Top with all of capers, remaining lemon slices, and 3 tablespoons parsley, then pour oil over fish. Bake in middle of oven, uncovered, until fish just flakes and is cooked through, about 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
Serve fish with some of lemon slices, capers, and oil spooned over. Sprinkle with remaining parsley.