This braised fish recipe is simple enough for a fast weeknight meal but elegant enough to serve at a dinner party. What I love most about this recipe is that it’s foolproof and delicious.
Thin fish like the speckled trout I used here are delicate and can overcook easily. This recipe gently poaches fillets in a white wine sauce, leaving you with perfect flakes that soak up the bright flavors of the braising liquid. You also don’t have to worry about the fragile meat sticking to the bottom of a sauté pan.
I like to think of this dish as a refined version of fish chowder. The preserved lemon and herbs keep the sauce light and refreshing, and the crispy potatoes add textural contrast that sticks to your ribs.
The sauce is similar to a buerre blanc or béchamel, but the consistency is thinner since there is no roux and only a little butter. I make this primarily with white wine and add just enough cream to tone down the acidity and coat the kale with flavorful fat.
- 1-1½ lbs. fillets, seasoned with salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1 leek
- 1 bundle lacinato kale or hardy greens
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1¼ cup dry white wine
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ preserved lemon, pulp removed and thinly sliced (substitute with lemon zest)
- 1 lb. red potatoes, roughly chopped into 1-2” cubes
- 1 tbsp. chopped dill and/or parsley for serving
- Kosher salt
- Fresh cracked pepper (use white peppercorns if possible)
- Oil for cooking potatoes
Also works with
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread the chopped potatoes across a large sheet pan and drizzle with enough oil to coat. Sprinkle a generous amount of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper over the top. Roast in the oven, flipping with a spatula once or twice. Cook until soft in the middle but crispy on the outside, about 30 minutes.
- To clean the leek, cut off the root end and the green tops (leave some light green). Slice the leek in half lengthwise. Run each half under cold water to rinse out dirt between the layers. Pat dry and slice again into ¼” half-moons. Wash the kale and remove stems from the greens. Tear into small pieces.
- Heat a large, ovenproof sauté pan over medium heat. Melt the butter and, once it begins to foam, add the sliced leek. Gently cook down for a couple minutes then add the garlic and kale. Continue to cook until the kale just begins to soften but is not fully wilted. Deglaze the pan with white wine and stir in the heavy cream. Add the preserved lemon slices. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the sauce reduce. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Turn the heat off and gently lay each fillet into the pan, pushing them down to partially submerge. Transfer the whole pan to the oven to finish cooking. If your pan is not ovenproof or if it’s too small, use a large baking dish instead.
- Braise the fish in the sauce until just barely cooked through. It should flake easily with a fork when done. Small, thin fillets will only take 6 to 8 minutes. This recipe can be made with thicker fish like halibut, but it will take longer to cook through in the oven.
- Serve the fish fillets with the crispy potatoes. Add a spoonful of the kale and cream sauce. Sprinkle with fresh dill and/or parsley to finish.
- If you’re not a fan of kale and want to substitute with spinach, add the greens after reducing the sauce and just before you add the fish so that it doesn’t wilt too fast.