I have mixed feelings about people in the kitchen when I am cooking. I think the proverb is true about too many cooks. It can lead to confusion and ultimate failure (spoiling the broth).
I’ve also found it to be distracting. My efforts at trying to cook a meal and carry on a conversation has resulted in burnt French bread, sauces ending up being too thick, and meat that was overdone.
But there are times when you will want extra people in your kitchen. It might be to provide some company while you cook, or sometimes it’s just nice to have bodies available at the counter to help you, and this is one of those times.
Lots will be happening just prior to serving this meal, so if they’re willing, put your guests to work. Let them know ahead of time so they can dress accordingly, and be sure to have plenty of good functional aprons for them to wear. There also should be enough counter space for at least four people. Less than that and the choreography that is required will be compromised. Assign them to three teams: a fish team, a potato team, and a vegetable team. It is helpful to have three stations laid out and the ingredients measured and at the ready.
This fish recipe works best with lean white cuts of sea bass (if you can get it); otherwise, another whitefish will work. When plated with the pommes duchesse and sauce, it makes for an elegant presentation. Sprinkle bread crumbs over both the entrée and the side(s), and after several forkfuls you will realize all of the last minute flurry was worth it.
White Fish With Crispy Caper Bread Crumbs
2 slicesBread peasant thick white
2 clovesGarlic finely diced
PinchRed pepper flakes crushed
1 TbspCapers diced
2 TbspParsley chopped
1/2 tspLemon zest
2 fish portionsSuch as cod, Chilean sea bass, halibut (my favorite). etc.
To tasteSalt and pepper
1/2 tsp per portionSugar
To tasteLemon juice
Ahead of Time:
Prepare bread crumbs. In a food processor pulse the bread until coarse crumbs form. In a skillet heat oil until shimmering over medium heat. Add anchovy, garlic, and crushed pepper. Garlic should just start to brown (30 seconds). Stir in bread crumbs and capers and cook over low heat until crisp and golden (8 minutes). Turn off heat stir in parsley and lemon zest. Toast under broiler on parchment paper until done (watch closely).
Enter Target Time _______________
Time: __________ (30 minutes prior to target time)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees (middle rack).
Dry fish thoroughly with paper towels.
Season with salt and pepper.
Over one side of fish, sprinkle sugar.
Heat oil in a skillet over med-high heat until smoking.
Place fillets in skillet, sugar side down and press for even contact.
Cook until browned (1-1½ minutes).
Using two spatulas, flip filets and transfer skillet to oven.
Roast until centers are just opaque (7-10 minutes).
Immediately transfer to serving plate and drizzle with a bit of lemon juice.
Garnish with parsley.
For a nice potato side dish to serve with the fish see “Recipes: Potatoes (Pommes Duchesse).”