15 May 2013

Provencal Fish ... Good Basic Fare

This is no delicate seafood dish. No, this is a plate of food for a night when you're craving a hearty glass of wine, a substantial meat and vegetable plate with juices worthy of a thick crust of bread. This French recipe requires a thick meaty fillet of fish - no sole or perch, but a fat slab of cod or hake or pollock. I used cod and pollock.

The rest of the dish consists of good chunky oven roasted tomatoes (canned or fresh during the summertime!), some onions, garlic, black olives, white wine, and herbs. Start the tomatoes as a sauce and dredge the fish fillets in flour and salt and black pepper. Fry the fish briefly in very hot oil, then pat the fillets with paper towels to soak up some of the oil. Lay the fish in a shallow roasting dish, drizzle the hot tomato sauce over top and bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes to finish the fish. Scatter on some pretty green thyme sprigs and capers.  Have a good crusty artisan bread and a cold green salad waiting and pour the wine. This is good basic food that reminds me of seaside inn fare on Cape Ann; Provence may be in the title of the recipe, but this dish screams the coast of New England to me.

Oh, for summertime and the shores of Good Harbor Beach ... until then, a painting that takes me there ...

Good Harbor Beach Footbridge - Eileen Oliver Patten

Provençal Fish


1 lb. fleshy fish fillets (cod, hake or pollock)
Flour for dredging
Salt and pepper
4 tbsp. canola oil for frying the fish
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. capers
1 medium onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
¼ c. dry white wine
4 sprigs fresh thyme, three stripped of leaves and fourth for garnish
1 – 15 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes, diced or 4 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 big handful good black olives, pitted and halved

Making the Dish:

  1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a shallow fry pan. When the butter is bubbling, add the drained capers and fry until crisped. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside in a small bowl.
  2. Add the diced onion and lower the heat a bit to sauté until wilted and glistening.
  3. Add the smashed garlic and continue the sauté for one minute.
  4. Sprinkle in the thyme leaves, dry white wine, black olives, and tomatoes and their juices.
  5. Simmer the sauce uncovered until it reduces a bit.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. As the sauce reduces, dredge the cleaned and dried fish fillets (cut them into serving sized chunks before dredging) in a plate of flour, salt and black pepper.
  8. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  9. Heat the canola oil in another clean fry pan and when it is quite hot, fry the fish until the crust is golden on both sides.
  10. Gently remove to paper towel lined plate and quickly pat some of the oil off the fillets (careful not to dislodge the crust.
  11. Turn the fillets gently onto a pretty roasting dish, drizzle the sauce over and around the fish.
  12. Place the fish in the oven for 15 minutes (or so) to finish the cooking process. Fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork.
  13. Toss on the capers and the reserved sprig of thyme.
  14. Serve with crusty bread for soaking up the juices.


  1. Oh my, I have to try this recipe. Not too sure how the Picky Eater would react, but I don't care. This looks delicious and perfect for summer. By the way, I lived on Cape Ann for 5 years...first in Manchester By-the-Sea, and then Gloucester. I often miss the ocean breeze here in the Midwest.

  2. It is wonderful to dream and relive special moments through food.


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