Blackfish with Garlic Beurre Blanc and Fiddleheads

May 26, 2014

Having stocked up on some fishy delights from 'The Local Catch' at the Hope Street Farmers Market recently I've been enjoying thinking about light, summery fish dishes.

After a winter of heavy sauces and comforting food it's lovely to be playing with fresh, zingy flavours and interesting new ingredients.

I've not have Blackfish before, it was described as a firm white fish much the same texture as Cod or Haddock but with a slightly stronger flavour.
I missed out on cooking with Fiddleheads last year, I discovered them late in the season then embarked on a mad dash between various markets to hunt some down but, alas, I missed out on some Fiddlehead homecooking. Seeing them in the market on a post work meander through the aisles I pounced in a manner that was probably disproportionate to my prey.

I watched Julie and Julia recently, a fantastic film about Julia Child and a modern day food blogger's quest to cook her way through "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". Child's awe-like, almost wordless description of how delicious Buerre Blanc is, had inspired me to try making it for myself. With the Blackfish's flavour being described as being more robust that Cod I thought it would be the parfect pairing, allowing each to shine, with the richness being cut though with the fresh, lemon seasoned Fiddleheads.

Ingredients: Serves 2

2 Blackfish fillets
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp dry Vermouth
1 Tbsp grated garlic
1 stick of salted butter (about 115g)
Salt and pepper
2 cups fiddleheads
Juice of half a lemon


The Blackfish has lovely soft, pink flesh but the fillets I had were REALLY boney. Its the first time i've cooked with Blackfish so I don't know if this is normal or if I just had a really boney pair of fillets. The bones, however, are thick and strong and didn't break when I plucked them out.

I've found that the best tool for plucking out thick bones in fish is a pair of plier- proper DIY, think nosed pliers. You will want to sterilise them in the dishwasher or by giving them a really tough scrub with hot water and soap them rinsing them with boiling water. I also skinned the fillets as I wanted a lovely soft fillet rather than one with a crisped skin.

The fish will cook quite quickly so it's best to get your sauce started first so everything ends up being ready at the right time.

Finely grate the garlic into a saucepan and add the vinegar and Vermouth. Bring to a simmer and leave to reduce until the garlic is only just covered by the the liquid. Chop the cold butter into  about 10 chunks, remove the pan from the heat and add a piece of butter to the vinegar/Vermouth mix. Whisk it in until it's completely melted and mixed, continue to add the chunks of butter piece by piece, waiting for the butter to melt before adding the next. You want to keep whisking through the process so that the butter and vinegar/Vermouth emulsify together to create a thick creamy sauce.

Once all the butter has been whisked in, pop the pan back on a very low heat to thicken the sauce until it thickly coats the back of a spoon and is thick and glossy.

Fiddleheads, for those that don't know- which included be prior to moving over here, are fern shoots that are tightly wound spirals of tender fern stems that taste like a green/string bean, spinach stalk, asparagus hybrid.

I saute the Fiddlehead with a little butter, salt and pepper. After about 10 minutes of sauteing on a low heat, when the fiddleheads are tender I throw up the heat and squeeze over the juice of half a lemon. Let the juice sizzle away for about 30 seconds then serves up or hold in the pan off the heat until you are ready.

Simple pan cook the fish with a little olive oil, salt and better until it's just cooked through and a little golden.

Serve the fish on a bed of the Fiddleheads with a few spoonfuls of the beurre blanc over the fish. It does down really well with a cold glass of white wine!

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