Saturday, May 7, 2011

Crab Stuffed Fillet of Sole in Lemon Dill Sauce

So, growing up here in California in general, and more specifically the North Coast, I've always been exposed to awesome seafood.  From fresh snapper, to abalone, to salmon, my family and I have always enjoyed the fruits of the Pacific.  I caught my first catfish at 8 and my middle brother caught his first mackerel in the open Pacific at 9.  I've fished bluegill, rainbow and brown trout, steelhead, small mouth bass, lingcod, and a myriad of other fish since my childhood.  While I rarely fish anymore, I love to cook seafood here at home for Jen and myself.  Living in Eureka, one of the old fishing capitols of California, affords us the opportunity to get fresh seafood at an affordable price almost anytime of year, from a variety of outlets and vendors.

When Jen moved out to Cali, she'd only been exposed to seafood in the Midwest and was not much of a fan at all.  I don't blame her.  After living here a couple of years, she started falling in love with sushi, fresh pan-fried catfish, all kinds of shellfish, and basically any kind of crustacean (i.e. crabs, lobster, shrimp, etc.), many of which she had liked before but rarely had fresh.  Since then we've made it a regular part of our menu.  Recently, we'd wanted to do some seafood and she suggested stuffing some whitefish with some crab.  Since I'm no moron, I said, "Of course!"  I decided to do something simple and easy, some canned crab, as opposed to fresh, as it involves much less prep and it tastes awesome regardless.

As I made the dish, I was listening to an all time classic of one of my favorite bands, Primus, "Fish On".  Though this song is not punk rock, per say, it is none the less a part of my musical repertoire from earlier days and I happen to love Les Claypool's bass action, especially in their earlier years.  Since he happens to reference San Pablo Bay, which is located in the north eastern part of the Greater San Francisco Bay, it seemed perfectly appropriate for me to use as I grew up in what San Franciscan's refer to as the North Bay, but the rest of us call Ukiah.

This is a simple dish that can be a perfect meal to serve to company as it seems far more complicated than it is.  We served it up with some steamed broccoli and used wild Dover sole for the whitefish, but you could substitute your your favorite mild, whitefish or garden veggies very easily.  The sauce is simple to put together and takes no time at all so it really is a snap to prepare as long as you have the ingredients all chopped and measured out ahead of time. -justin

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced mushroom
  • 2 tablespoons minced green onion 
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup crab meat (I used canned, lump crab but you could use whatever you prefer)
  • 2 tablespoons grated Gruyere cheese
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper
  • 6 fillets of wild Dover sole (or whatever whitefish you prefer)
Preheat oven to 400F degrees.  Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a 3-quart sauce pan and heat to medium-high.  Add the yellow onion and cook until golden brown.  Add mushrooms, green onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes.  Pull vegetables from heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Add the crab, Gruyere, lemon juice, white pepper, and Mexican oregano and mix thoroughly.  Add salt to taste.  Lay out fillets and salt and pepper both sides.  Divide filling evenly among the fillets and roll them closed over the filling, using toothpicks to secure the ends of the fish fillets.  Place evenly spaced on a lightly oiled sheet pan, brush tops lightly with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and place in the oven.  Cook for 25-30 minutes or until tops are starting to brown.  Serve with the following sauce which can easily be prepared while the fish is baking:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced shallots (or onions)
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped dill
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 5 tablespoons sweet cream butter
Add the olive oil to a small sauce pan heated over medium-high heat.  Add shallots and cook until golden brown.  Add garlic and cook 2 minutes.  Add wine and cook 5 minutes.  Add lemon juice and zest, dill and Dijon and stir until combined.  Add heavy cream and black pepper, taste and add salt ass needed.  When properly seasoned, add butter 1 tablespoon at a time, making sure each is melted and incorporated before adding the next.

We served this with steamed broccoli, as I mentioned before, as the sauce goes with it beautifully.  One could also use cauliflower, asparagus, or artichokes, etc.

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