Published March 1, 2005.
A sautéed fish fillet needs a pan sauce to turn it into a satisfying main course. The problem is coordinating the cooking so that both are done perfectly.
Sautéed dish fillets can be boring without a pan sauce, but getting both a hot pan sauce and the hot fish on the table at the same time isn't easy. The fillets (especially if they're thin) cool down quickly, often before even the quickest sauce can be made. And before cooking, there's always the problem of choosing the right fish.
We wanted to come up with a way to produce both fish and sauce that were ready to serve at the same time.
First, don't be afraid to ask for exactly what you want at the fish counter. Specify fresh fillets of uniform size, between 1/4 and 1 inch thick (we found that fillets more than an inch thick usually require both stovetop and oven cooking), and small enough so that four fillets can fit in a skillet. If the only attractive option available is paper-thin fillets (often flounder or sole), fold them over to achieve a double thickness.
Second, reverse the normal cooking process: Make the sauce first and keep it warm in a separate saucepan, then cook the fish. When the fish is cooked, place the fillets on plates and simply spoon the warm sauce over them.list of recipes