Why not fry fillets of saithe the way we do with our fresh mackerel? No fish is really cheap these days, but fresh saithe is commonly the cheapest fillets in the shops of Oslo, and good.
Summer memories of fresh mackerel comes to mind – either the small ones – pir – or the larger one that sometimes also used to be boiled, cut in large pieces, boiled in brine, I believe with vinegar, bay leaf and pepper, set aside for a while and eaten cold.
There’s no use trying to make the saithe into fine fish meat, I mean, like cod, flunders of different kinds, or other really white fish. It is a little coarse like the mackerel, like whale meat too, actually, and herring. If you treat it as what it actually is, it can make a brilliant dish.
Anyway, butter and a hearty amount of salt and pepper is all you need, and you fry it a little hard, so that it gets caramelized and crisp, as crisp as you like. The fillets has of course no skin, but the skin of the mackerel can be delicious if treated the right way and served when still crisp from the frying-pan.
If I’m not utterly broke, I keep a store of English Maldon salt, and usually some whole black or white pepper in the grinder, but you don’t really have to be that peculiar, normal sea salt and almost any pepper will do. Tonight I used normal factory-grinded white pepper, which actually tastes quite good.
I also added some cheap rapeseed oil, and some normal olive oil into the pan.
Afterwards I boiled out the frying pan with a few drops of a Chinese vinegar I had bought at least a year ago, and water. It went into the noodles that I had on the side, together with some Tabasco, but the sauce turned out a little anonymous. It added a little weight to the noodles, but I felt almost anything could have substituted it. A little garlic warmed in the fat in the beginning would of course have been good, like I usually do. You can’t really make a sauce with no kind of stock.
An unsatisfied craving for corn flakes earlier in the evening made me fry some after the fish was finished, and with a little extra salt it turned out
quite fun on top of the dish. It reminded me of American kids visiting here. I have family in Arizona, and the girl in the family cooked with me too, which was great fun.
I don’t know if the crisp feeling of the corn flakes evoked these fond summer memories, or just the fact that it is an American product. Americans can be quick and fun, which I enjoy, especially when I myself is not stupid, grumpy and slow.
I lacked of course a small salad, I could have made some of the usual stuff with sweet peppers and vinaigrette.
Yeah, right, there was a bottle of crémant too, which I got as a birthday present, French bubbles not from the Champagne district, they went down very well with these things. The crispness of the fish kicked ass with the crispity of the wine. Cool combination. I’m beginning to like bubbly wine. Something must have happened…
As much fresh fillet of saithe as you crave (ung. 250g pro person is standard)
a lump of butter and some oil in the pan (add some extra butter and salt for the corn flakes if you need)
butter, oil for frying
white pepper, or both
flakes per person
noodles of any kind
Melt the butter, heat the pan for a minute more and add the fish. Fry on a quite hot flame until a little crisp. The butter should not be allowed to turn completely brown, but almost.Salt and pepper, enough on both sides.
Take the fish out of the pan immediately when almost done. Don’t be afraid of a slight touch of sushi, if the fish is really fresh it’s good anyway. It will cook a little further too in the pan, when taken off the heat, or even on the plate.
Add the corn flakes and fry for a few minutes. Put aside.
Boil out the frying pan with a little vinegar and water (1 tsp vinegar, 1-2 dl water). Reduce it a little so it doesn’t completely soak your plate.
The reducing will happen quickly in a large pan.
Serve on a plate with the corn flakes on top of the fish.