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04/29/2012

~ Baked Haddock w/Nicoise Sauce & Saffron Rice + (Tips & Techniques for Handling Frozen Fish Fillets) ~

PICT2729Every home cook who enjoys fish has a simple baked fish recipe in his or her repertoire and I am no exception.  I started liking fish at an early age, starting with my Dad's salmon patties followed by fish sticks in our school's cafeteria.  Dad made his salmon patties from canned salmon and the school's bread-crumb-coated fish sticks were pre-frozen.  This is not a criticism. Here in Pennsylvania, and especially back in that time period (the 1960's and '70's), fresh fish just wasn't readily available.  Nowadays, our local markets have lovely fresh seafood counters, and, I am a big fan of fresh white fish, namely: cod, flounder, haddock, sole, and, grouper (which is my absolute favorite).  While fresh fish is always better than frozen:

I will never turn my nose up at flash-frozen haddock!

PICT2736Ok.  It's rectangular, which makes it look "fake".  Get over it.  This is a thick, meaty fillet with a mild flavor. I am never without 3-4 of these in my freezer.  The fillets need to be thawed prior to baking, broiling or deep-frying.  Thawing will take 3-4 hours on your countertop, or, overnight in the refrigerator.

The flash-frozen haddock fillets I purchase weigh about 12-14 ounces each, and one is easily enough to feed two people.  "Flash" or "quick" frozen means that it was frozen at sea or within a few hours of being caught, which means it will have a fresher taste than fish frozen a day later.

Why is a frozen haddock fillet rectangular in shape?

Yhst-61230524414527_2204_1265469We can thank Clarence Birdseye for this.  He began experimenting with freezing fish in 1916 and found out that if fish were frozen very quickly, when it thawed it was almost indistinguishable from fresh fish.  He started his company in 1924, with the intention of selling frozen fish, but his real goal was to develop and patent a method of freezing that would launch an entire industry.  He named his company General Seafoods Corporation, which was located on Gloucester's, MA waterfront.  They began with haddock fillets that were tightly-packed and frozen in rectangular cardboard boxes.  By doing this, he eliminated air, which assured complete freezing with no spaces for bacteria to enter.  Birdseye had succeeded in developing a process for freezing food on which an entire industry was founded.  As his company expanded from fish to vegetables, the business was sold and given a new name:  General Foods!

Mel's Super-Easy, Moist & Juicy Baked Haddock Fillet(s)!

PICT2740My recipe for baking haddock is so simple, it is almost embarrassing. In fact I wasn't planning on posting it at all, but:  

Two days ago I posted my recipe for ~ French Riviera-Style Tomato Sauce "a la Nicoise"~ (found in Categories 8, 14, 20 & 22).  I pictured the sauce atop baked haddock and served with my recipe for ~ Spicy Saffron Rice ~ (found in Categories 4, 12 & 14).  

Within moments of posting the Nicoise sauce, I received a comment from a reader asking me to elaborate on the fish in the picture, along with instructions for how to cook it.  A few short moments after that comment, two of my Facebook friends asked for the same information.  So, my friends and readers, here is the recipe, with its two easy steps  and baking instructions:

PICT2731~ Step 1.  Place 1-2, 12-14 ounce, thawed haddock fillets on a disposable aluminum broiler pan. Place 4-5 thin pats of salted butter (a scant 1 tablespoon) over the top of each fillet, fresh lemon juice (from 1/2 a lemon) and a sprinkling of lemon-pepper seasoning.

~ Step 2.  Cover pan with foil and bake on center rack of 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Rest 5 minutes prior to uncovering and serving.

PICT2730Baked Haddock w/Nicoise Sauce & Saffron Rice:  Recipe yields instructions for cooking 1-2, 12-14-ounce haddock fillets, or, 2-4 servings.  Technically, with side-dishes, you should be able to get 3 servings out of each fillet.  That being said, this fish is so delicious, no one can resist going back for more.  Leftovers reheat nicely in the microwave too!

Special Equipment List: 11 3/4" x 8 1/2" x 1 1/4" disposable aluminum broiler pan w/corrugated bottom; paring knife; aluminum foil

PICT2738Cook's Note:  This is one of my family's favorite meals and I would not hesitate a moment to serve it to guests either.  The fish comes out moist, juicy and full of lemony flavor each and every time.  I prepare the recipes for the Nicoise sauce and the saffron rice ahead of time (while the fish is thawing on my countertop).  The haddock bakes so quickly, the sauce and rice don't even have time to cool off!

Joe's 87-year-old mother moved to Happy Valley in 2007.  She loves to eat fish and proclaims this to be her favorite fish meal!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

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Comments

WoW!! Really loved the article.

Thank-you for another nice comment BSO!!!

Excellent blog very nice and unique information related to Saffron. Thanks for sharing this information.

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