Picatta is one of my new favorite dishes. It's fast, and it's delicious. It sounds like you slaved away over a hot stove for hours, whipping up Nonna's secret recipe, but it's actually stupidly easy to make. It goes over just about anything, from chicken to fish and seafood. Here I'm serving it with asparagus, along with some baguette to mop up any sauce that might remain. I should note that I made a terrible error when reading my fish package, and thawed an entire pound of instead of the half I've called for in the recipe. There's normally rather more sauce left over than you see in the photos.
Time: 25 minutes to table if the fish is thawed, otherwise 35.
Planning Ahead: None, unless you thaw the fish in advance.
The Funny Stuff: Capers
Virtues: Low in refined starches, high in vitamin C and a number of B vitamins
Downsides: Totally addictive, uses butter
Calories: 301 or so, depending on your choice of fish.
4 oz mild white fish (I'm using Striped Pangasius from Trader Joes) sliced into thin fillets
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp cornmeal
salt and cracked pepper to taste
1/2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup white wine
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup capers
1 tbsp butter
If you're thawing the fish, throw it in a sink of warm water. It should be hot, but not unbearably so. At about the same temperature that your skin starts to protest, the fish will start to cook, and we don't want that. This, of course, violates the directions on the package, and everything you have ever learned about food safety in school. However, it's only going to be in the sink for 8-10 minutes, which isn't long enough for even the most ambitious bacteria to make in-roads on your food. If you thaw it in a cold water bath, you'll be there all night.
While the fish is thawing, we're going to make a dredge for it. This step is somewhat optional, and if you're living gluten-free, like some of my friends, by all means skip it. I like the taste that the browned flour adds to the sauce, especially for fish, which doesn't add as meaty a flavor as chicken. Add flour, cornmeal, and some salt and pepper, and mix it together.
At this point, since I was waiting for the fish, I also pre-heated the oven for warming the baguette, threw the asparagus in a microwave safe bowl, and microwaved it for 3 minutes, loosely covered with a lid.
Heat your skillet to medium-high, and drizzle a little olive oil in it, then spread it to coat.
Dredge the fish in the flour, and add it to the pan.
When the fish starts to turn solid white around the edges, and is golden brown underneath, flip it.
Once the fish is golden on both sides, and cooked through, remove it from the pan, and set it on plates. Deglaze the pan with the white wine. Be sure to scrape all those tasty brown bits into the sauce!
Once you've finished deglazing, add the lemon juice...
Reduce the sauce by about half, and then stir the butter. Remove it from the heat once the butter is incorporated.
Drizzle it over the fish.
In the dirty pan that I just poured the sauce out of, I drizzled a little more olive oil, and about 1/3 Tbsp butter...
And did a quick saute of the asparagus, picking up all that tasty lemon flavor.
Et voila, dinner.
The baby loves fish, so we checked it over carefully for bones, and diced a well-cooked asparagus tip for her.
Photo credits to Aaron Wood and Aleatha Parker-Wood.