From April to November, New England Haddock is at its most plentiful.
Of all the Atlantic whitefish, haddock’s flavor profile is unique and sought after. I know it is a favorite of my family.
My mother cooked haddock, cod, and other whitefish simply. On a Friday night when she had more time, she cut up haddock and fried it fish ‘n chips style. She used a funny little basket in a large saucepan as her deep fryer, and she never used a thermometer! Somehow, it always came out just right.
Two favorite sauces
She served her fried fish with a homemade tartar sauce. Haddock is also good fried and served with a spicy cocktail sauce. I could never decide which sauce I liked best!
More often than not, Mom baked her fish in a little milk or cream with a few herbs on top while she prepared the rest of the meal.
A must for a fish soup, from anywhere
Haddock is also an essential ingredient in a milk-based traditional New England fish chowder. It is equally at home providing the protein in a not-quite-traditional Bermuda fish chowder, or a French bouillabaisse!
I love the baked version, but I also love a fish fry, so I decided to use a crunchy topping on the fish and bake it in the oven; this does save time standing over the hot oil.
To top it off
I used fresh breadcrumbs, whole-wheat since that is what I had on hand, and mixed them with a flavorful paprika. You can use a smoked paprika, or even a hot one. Since I would be using fresh herbs, I decide to apply them directly to the fish along with the salt and pepper to prevent them from burning in the oven.
You can use whatever herbs you like. In this particular dish, I used tarragon, dill, and parsley, all with unusual restraint because the former two can be overpowering if not kept in check.
A hybrid sauce
To top it off, I made a sauce that is a hybrid of cocktail and tartar sauces, thinned to drizzle over the fish. It was really good, creamy, sharp, and tangy, with nice texture. It tastes as good on the vegetables as the fish!
This dish is crunchy, quick, easy, and pleases the whole family – even the deep-fried lovers.
2 slices whole-wheat bread
1 tsp. flavorful paprika
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 filets haddock, total 1 1/2 lbs.
1 tbsp. mixed fresh herbs, minced
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup milk or cream
Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and butter a baking dish that the filets will fit into snugly.
In your food processor, pulse the bread slices along with the paprika until they are a textured crumb. Drizzle in a little olive oil.
Heat a skillet over medium, add a tablespoon of oil and the crumbs. Cook, stirring all the while, until the crumbs start to toast and become fragrant. Remove to a plate to stop cooking.
Place the haddock in the prepared dish. Season with salt and pepper and herbs.
Top with the crumbs, keeping the layer evenly thick. Sprinkle with a little more s&p and drizzle with a bit more olive oil.
Pour the milk or cream in the bottom of the pan. You don’t need much, this just keeps the fish moist while baking.
Bake for around 20 minutes, it all depends on your oven. When done, a knife inserted pierces the flesh easily. The top will look crispy, and it will have a lovely aroma.
Remove to a platter (use a large fish spatula, this will be quite fragile) and top with the Cocktail Tartar Sauce. Sere with lemons and more herbs if desired.
Nutritional information: Haddock is high in protein, low in fat, and a great source of Vitamins B6 & B12, potassium, magnesium, iron, and calcium.
Cocktail Tartar Sauce
Cocktail Tartar Sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup ketchup
2 tbsp. capers and a little of the brine
2 tbsp. dill pickle relish, and a little of the brine
1 tbsp. prepared horseradish, or a little more
1 couple of shakes of hot sauce of choice
1 tbsp. parsley, minced
Mix all the ingredients together, and taste. Is it where you want it? Do you need more heat? Some salt? More ketchup? This is where you can make it your own.
Thin with a little milk (or more brine) to get to the desired consistency for drizzling over the fish.
© Copyright 2019 – or current year, Dorothy Grover-Read, The New Vintage Kitchen