Ask most "good cooks" and they'll probably admit that sometimes, even for them, it's a struggle to get dinner made during the week. This is especially so when you've been writing about food all day long. This happened to me both Monday and Tuesday night this week.
If you can make it to your local fish monger, this problem can probably be solved quite easily. On Monday, I got some Mahi Mahi, and on Tuesday it was sea scallops. Both were local and wild, and score relatively well on the Blue Ocean Institute's Guide to Ocean Friendly Seafood.
The scallops, from Cape May, NJ, were easy to prepare. I didn't even bother to sear them, instead cooking them in the pan with some already reduced tomato, shallots and wine. Push the mush to the side and turn up the heat: those scallops will cook to tenderness in about 5 minutes total, turning them once. If you like that seared look and feel, sear them in the pan on very high heat before doing the shallots and tomatoes, and set them aside.
The Mahi Mahi got the broiler treatment, one of my favorite ways to prepare a firm, flaky fish. A 6-8 oz fillet (an ample portion for one person) can sit about 4-5 inches from the flame on a foil-lined pan for about 7-9 minutes, skin side down. Use a fork to see how the inside looks. You don't want it to look raw like sushi, but you don't want to cook it to the point of chalkiness. Remember that fish will continue to cook after it's out of the oven or the pan, so err on the early side of things.
I used the same sauce for both fish: a simple ensemble of reduced tomato and shallot. The finished fish goes on greens, with the tomato spooned on top. A sprinkle of basil or thyme is a nice final touch.
It's almost silly to call this a weeknight recipe because both times, the meal was so good, part of me wished we were sharing it with a crowd.
Weeknight Fish for Two Sauce
makes 2 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 shallots or 1 small onion, sliced thin
1 tomato, 8 or so cherry tomatoes (chopped) or half a can of tomatoes
splash white wine
pinch red pepper flakes, optional
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat the oil in a medium (10-inch is ideal, 12-inch if you need room for scallops) fry pan over medium flame. When very hot, add the shallots and sauté until the shallots go limp and have browned just a little. Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, cooking for about 5 minutes, stirring often. At this point, add the scallops and a splash of wine and cook 2-3 minutes on each side, covered. Or, if making a sauce only, add the wine and continue to cook another 5 minutes until further reduced.
From The Email: On Charcuterie For Dinner
(Mahi Mahi illustration: Sportfishing Jamaica)