Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Panfried Cream Snapper Fillet with Delia Smith's All-In-One White Sauce.
Among all the female TV chefs, I admire Delia Smith most. I remember watching her shows a long time ago, and being captivated by her posh British accent, her shiny kitchen utensils and that bright airy kitchen. Plus, she had a way of making everything look effortless.
Back then, my young self knew we were kindred spirits when she said, in an episode on Eggs, that she liked to leave sunny side-ups in the pan slightly longer, because she liked "the sides to be a little crusty". Exactly how I like my eggs done. ;) I never quite forgot that episode, you know.
Then came the explosion of TV chefs on the small screen and while I loved seeing new faces like ahem, David Rocco and Tyler Florence (is it just me or is it getting hot in here?), I always had Delia at the back of my mind. So in what could possibly be my last recipe of 2010, I decided to go back to my first love, and to basics, and made a versatile All-in-one White Sauce.
Thank you Delia. You will always be the ultimate Domestic Goddess to me.
(taken entirely from Delia Online and to be read out loud in your poshest British accent, thank you very much!)
1. This speeded-up version is even easier than using a packet. The quantities given will make enough for 4 people. You will need 15 fl oz (425 ml) milk, which can be infused to give a subtle background flavour to the sauce (you just need to place a bay leaf, a blade of mace, 10 whole black peppercorns, a slice of onion, and a few chopped parsley stalks in a saucepan with the milk). Bring the milk up slowly to simmering point, remove from the heat and leave it to infuse until the milk is cold.
Note fom The Little Teochew: You can be creative and infuse the milk with pretty much anything you like! I used a bay leaf, a wedge of onion, and a light sprinkling of organic Herbes de Provence. The herbs are 100% organic and come courtesy of Honest Vanilla. ♥
I just had to show you these ... herb jars that stick to my refrigerator door! ♥
2. It is very important to ensure that the milk is absolutely cold, because if it isn't the sauce will go lumpy, so leave it to cool completely. Strain it back into the saucepan, discarding any flavourings you have used, and add ¾ oz (20 g) flour and 1½ oz (40 g) butter. Always use plain or sauce flour and not self-raising.
3. Bring the sauce gradually up to simmering point, whisking continuously with a balloon whisk. The starch grains in the flour burst and collapse at boiling point, and become gelatinous. If a good deal of vigorous whisking is going on, these collapsed granules get distributed evenly throughout resulting in a smooth, thickened sauce, exactly the same as a traditional roux method sauce. There's only one other rule apart from determined whisking, and that is the fat content: it's the flour blended with the fat that ensures lump-free results, so never attempt to blend hot liquid and flour without the presence of fat, as this is what causes lumps. It is all quite straightforward, a case of once you understand the rules, lumps should never occur. But so what? If you do happen to slip up on the rules or get distracted, then don't forget why sieves were invented.
4. The sauce never looks thick enough when it first comes up to simmering point. Do not panic but be patient, as it will continue to thicken as the raw taste of the flour is cooked out over the gentlest possible heat for 5 minutes. So remember when you use flour in a sauce, although it will thicken to a smooth creaminess very quickly, it then has to be cooked. The only exception is if you're going to continue to cook the sauce in the oven, as in a lasagne, for example, which means you can cut this initial cooking to 2 or 3 minutes.
Note from The Little Teochew: Taste test here. At this point, I decided a dash of sea salt would be nice.
5. If you want to make the sauce in advance, the best way to prevent a skin from forming, place some cling film directly over the surface, then either keep it warm by placing it over a pan of barely simmering water or, if you want to make it a long way ahead, re-heat it using the same method and don't remove the cling film until you are ready to serve. If you find it has thickened a little, this is easy to rectify by adding a little more liquid – milk, stock, or cream – to bring it back to the right consistency.
6. Now that you have a basic sauce it opens the doors to many variations such as adding a squeeze of lemon juice and some chopped fresh dill to be served with fish, or chopped fresh parsley to accompany fish cakes. Alternatively you can make a lighter sauce by not using all milk but instead using half stock – or even half wine or cider. Also if you were poaching or baking smoked haddock or any other fish in milk for instance, you could halve the quantity of milk in the recipe and replace the other half with the fish poaching liquid – provided it's completely cold.
Sauce ready, now on to my main dish. I used cream snapper fillets.
These fillets were defrosted, patted dry, lightly salted and panfried in butter and oil.
Once panfried to a golden brown, leave it to cool. The trick to getting this slightly charred, crisp-around-the-edges result is to ensure you have a very hot pan, and avoid - at all costs - moving the fillets for at least 4 to 5 mins (depending on thickness). You should only touch the fillets once, and that is when you flip them over. The total cooking time for these fillets took me 8 or 9 mins. About 2 mins before taking them out of the pan, I added a tiny splash of Chardonnay. As the alcohol cooks off, the sweetness of the wine will linger on the fish. Just remember to temporarily remove the pan from the stove as you are adding the alcohol. You don't want to start a fire!
Plate your dish and add the white sauce when ready to serve. I had a tray of potatoes roasting in the oven, but they couldn't make it for this photo shoot because the sun was setting. Haha!
So there. My recommendation on how to serve this All-In-One White Sauce. Do you like it? :) My daughter certainly did. She had sauce with everything, even the roasted potatoes!
And on a side note, look what I have here - Moscato d'Asti! I was doing groceries when I came face to face with bottles of these. My heart skipped a beat. Oh, I remember drinking this at Forlino, and although I bought Australian Moscato to try, they were just not the same as the Italian version. I promptly grabbed a bottle ... this would be perfect for my Christmas Eve dinner. There will be a sushi platter, cheeses and fruit with crackers, a vegetable curry, noodles, finger food, and other things I haven't quite decided yet.
Well, I do believe I will eat, drink and make merry for whatever's left of 2010 ... so this blog will be on a holiday too. I want to take this chance to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. If you have been a silent reader all these while, come out and say hello already! :D
Finally, thank you for coming along on my kitchen, dining and travel adventures. 2010 has been a fabulous year for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed journaling and photographing every single post. And through it all, I hope I have, in one way or another, brought some inspiration and cheer to you.
Happiness & Peace to all!