Saturday, October 13, 2012

Recipe: Smoked Fish with Tarragon Egg Sauce

There's nothing more dangerous than a resourceful idiot. – Scott Adams 

Looks good, doesn't it?

Here's a slight variation on the fresh haddock with egg sauce I posted about two weeks ago. This day I had to be a little resourceful, and this is the result.

The challenge – smoked fish already sitting on the stove.
My mother likes to challenge me – or so I think. Whenever I visit her she always make sure she has a full larder. The thing is, she buys for her cooking, not mine. What that means is the "extras" that make a meal memorable (spices, garlic, etc.) don't make their way into her shopping basket.

It's not that I'm a "fancy" cook. It's just that I know by adding a simple ingredient or two and some other on-hand ingredients you can lift something out of the ordinary – with very little effort. We all have to eat. We may as well enjoy it.

This time it was smoked fish. Haddock to be exact. Mom purchased it from the a “fish truck” fishmonger. You know what I mean... not a store. He drives around and sells out of the back of his truck.

This usually is a very good thing, but this time the smoked haddock was quite hard. Way harder than the stuff you buy in the grocery. Therefore mom had it sitting in water soaking before being cooked. That's the way I found it when I came over before lunch. (Yes, a full cooked meal for lunch. It almost kills me.)

I hate to have her wait on me, although it’s hard to prevent. But I do try to cook for her as much as I can. At least I know she’s taking it easy when I’m doing it. 

The tarragon béchamel.
Really simple to make.
And I believe it gives her some pleasure – and something to talk about with her friends. She has waxed eloquent with them about eggplant parmigiana, spaghetti squash and gnocchi to name just three. I’ve introduced her to several other interesting dishes/ingredients as well.

But I had to dream up something to do with this fish that wasn’t too exotic. It’s not that she wouldn’t try something so much that I was taken by surprise and had to rely on what else was in her cupboards.

Mom usually cooks the fish in milk, salt and pepper and then drops in eggs to poach. The drawback is that the milk curdles. It still tastes good, but presentation leaves something to be desired.

The quick fix for that occurrence is béchamel. A little butter and flour guarantee you’ll have a smooth sauce. But I couldn’t really poach eggs in the béchamel. Hard boiled solved that problem.

For some added interest I threw just enough tarragon to taste it into the béchamel sauce. Tarragon always goes with fish.

I served this on some fluffy mashed potatoes. It was a wonderful meal, with very little effort.

Smoked Fish with Tarragon Egg Sauce
Prep: 20 min  |  Cook 10 min  |  Serves 4
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1-1/2 tsp tarragon, dried (or 1-1/2 tbsp fresh)
1/2 tsp salt (if the fish isn’t salty)
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 lb smoked fish
4 hard boiled eggs, sliced

Boil the eggs and set aside.

Melt the butter in a wide saucepan. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Cook for about 2 minutes. Then slowly add the milk and whisk until thickened, about 2-3 minutes.

Add in the tarragon, garlic, pepper and salt (if using).

Add the cubed fish to the sauce and let cook for about 3 minutes. Then slice the hard boiled eggs and add to the mixture.

Bring the fish and eggs just to a simmer and serve atop mashed potatoes that have way too much butter in them...


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