If you like having a great red wine with the Christmas dinner main course, but you would also like to have fish, this is the perfect solution for you! I used yellowtail, which is a great tasting fish that is also known as kingfish, hamachi (in Japan), or ricciola (in Italy), but you could also make this with halibut, sole, turbot, or even cod. The combination of moist tender fish with crispy skin, a red wine sauce with a very deep flavor, mushrooms is delicious. If you can afford it (and find it), adding some freshly shaved truffle takes this over the top and makes it truly a dish for a special occasion. You could use either white or black truffle — I was lucky to find a reasonably priced white truffle. The combination with a properly aged Barbaresco or Roero is magnificent. The red wine should have earthy notes and smooth tannins, as harsh tannins won’t marry well with the fish. The plating and photography does not do the dish justice, so you’ll have to take my word for it that this was one of the best dishes I’ve ever prepared.
For 4 servings
600 grams (1.3 lbs) yellowtail fillet, with skin (or halibut, sole, turbot (without skin), cod)
250 grams (.55 lbs) wild mushrooms such
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp good extra virgin olive oil
flour for dusting
6 Tbsp clarified butter
For the red wine sauce
500 ml (2 cups) homemade fish stock (you could ask the fishmonger for the head and bones)
250 ml (1 cup) good red wine (it doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should not be too acidic)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp (clarified) butter
1 tsp cornstarch
And an optional but recommended ingredient: a fresh truffle. This white truffle was 14 grams, which was sufficient for the 4 servings.
Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan. Add the shallots, garlic, thyme, and bay leaves, and sauté over medium heat until the shallots are golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes.
When the shallots are golden, add the fish stock…
…and the red wine.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer until reduced to about 250 ml (1 cup).
Sieve the mixture into a saucepan, pressing down on the solids to get all of the liquid out.
Reduce the sauce further to about 125 ml (1/2 cup) over medium heat, then turn off the heat.
Feel with your fingertips to check for any bones, and remove them with pincers.
Cut the fish into 4 serving pieces.
Season the fish with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and brush it lightly with extra virgin olive oil. If you are going to cook the fish sous-vide, vacuum seal it at this point.
Clean the mushrooms with a damp piece of kitchen paper and chop them roughly.
Up until this point, the dish can be prepared in advance. Refrigerate the fish and the mushrooms until you are ready to finish.
If you have sous-vide equipment, you could the best and easiest results by cooking the fish sous-vide for half an hour at 50C/122F for yellowtail, halibut, sole, or turbot (for cod you may wish to use a different temperature).
If you do not have sous-vide equipment, cook the skin first (as shown below) and then finish in the oven (skin side up) at 180C/350F until an instant read thermometer with the probe inserted in the center of one of the pieces of fish shows that the core temperature is 50C/122F.
Sauté the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of clarified butter…
…until they are just cooked. Season them with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Mix a teaspoon of cornstarch with a teaspoon of cold water, and add this slurry to the red wine sauce.
Cook the red wine sauce, stirring, until it has thickened. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper. If you used wine that was too acidic, you could try to adjust this by adding a pinch of sugar.
Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.
Dust the skin of the fish with flour, shaking off excess…
…and crisp up the skin in a non-stick frying pan with 4 tablespoons of clarified butter over very high heat.
In my experience, clarified butter will give a more crispy skin than using oil. Regular butter would burn because of the high heat.
Arrange the fish, skin side up, on preheated plates, with a dollop of the red wine sauce and the mushrooms. Add some freshly shaved truffle, if using.
Serve at once.
As already mentioned in the introduction, the combination with a properly aged Barbaresco or Roero is magnificent. The red wine should be elegant, complex, have earthy notes, and smooth tannins, as harsh tannins won’t marry well with the fish. We enjoyed it with a Malvirà Renesio 2005, which fit the bill exactly, which had been decanted some hours before to give it some air. Barbaresco and Roero are the wine production areas that are close to Barolo and use the same Nebbiolo grape, but the wines from there generally speaking more elegant.
Brussels sprouts are an acquired taste that not everyone acquires (or has acquired yet). I’m not that fond of them myself. Roasting makes most vegetables taste so much better. Roasted sprouts are great with balsamic and honey.