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Swedish dinners: Fiskgratäng

Swedish dinners: Fiskgratäng
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  • Swedish dinners: Fiskgratäng

    Post #1 - January 16th, 2008, 4:48 am
    Post #1 - January 16th, 2008, 4:48 am Post #1 - January 16th, 2008, 4:48 am
    Fiskgratäng is a dish that is increasingly only seen as a frozen, pre-made, quick-fix dinner. However, it’s an easy dish to make from scratch and you’ll end up with a rich and satisfying dinner.

    First, some linguistics. My guess as to what the Swedish name for this dish should be translated to is “Scalloped fish”. However, as I look on the net, I’m beginning to think that calling any dish like this that isn’t potatoes “scalloped” is outdated and old-fashioned. Anyone have any better ideas?

    Start with:

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    7-8 medium-sized boiling potatoes (these are King Edward), some North Atlantic shrimp for garnish (other garnishes that work include mussels, lump crab meat, or even diced tomatoes), one 2-3 pound zander/pike-perch*, 2 tablespoons flour, 4 tablespoons butter, 2 cups milk, ½ cup fish/shellfish stock, dill, lemon

    * Zander is a freshwater fish that is also commonly known in Europe as pike-perch. It is very closely related to the North American walleye although part of me (perhaps the part that paid 50 USD for this fish) wants this fish to be more of this pedigree than this.

    The most traditional fish to use with this preparation would undoubtedly be cod. However, due to all of the scares about cod stocks in the North Atlantic (not to mention the Baltic), I chose a more sustainable fish.

    One reason this fish was so expensive was that it was purchased at an exclusive market. Included in the price is the promise that it is about as fresh as any non-personally caught zander in Stockholm. In fact, this particular specimen was still slightly stiff with rigor mortis when I purchased it yesterday morning.

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    Yes, the eyes are cloudy. As many probably know, eyes of a zander (and walleye) are adapted to low-light conditions and the light-gathering layers they have in their eyes reflect daylight.

    The gills were still bright red by the time I got home:

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    A little slicing and filleting later and the zander was boneless.

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    (Swedes actually have a term or verb for cutting out the little strip of bones in the middle of the fillet: “byxa”. The term roughly “to make into trousers” and is actually a great description of how the boneless fillets look after the strip of bone and flesh is removed! You can't see if here though as I went ahead and divided the fillets further…)

    A quick shot of the North Atlantic shrimp.

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    These were also pristine and have not been frozen. A frozen version of these has been mentioned as being available at Chicagoland IKEA here. I believe that there is a local following for this type of shrimp in the Northeastern U.S.

    The zander’s head and bones as well as the shrimp shells were made into a simple stock and frozen.

    Finally, the dish! Start by peeling and boiling the potatoes before ricing them. Add 2 tablespoons of butter, some salt and about 1 cup of milk. Or, make mashed potatoes however you like!

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    Then, make the roux with 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour. Cook a few minutes without letting it brown:

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    Add the concentrated fish/shellfish stock…

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    … and milk:

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    Whisk to prevent lumps and bring gently to a boil. Adjust the sauce’s thickness with milk and/or more fish stock. The final sauce should be quite thick (like, say, sour cream).

    Season with salt, pepper, about ½ cup of chopped dill and a few tablespoons lemon zest.

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    Pre-bake the fish fillets in a warm oven (400 degrees F) for about 10 minutes or until about half-done.

    Before:

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    After:

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    (Note to self: remember which side was the kids’ side!)

    Pipe the mashed potatoes around the half-cooked fish…

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    … and cover the fish with the sauce:

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    Bake in a hot oven (I used the convection/grill function in my oven) until warm and brown (about 15 minutes):

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    Garnish the finished dish with some of the peeled shrimp:

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    Serve with a vegetable and some more of the shrimp:

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    All in all, a satisfying dish with simple flavors. Perhaps a little unfortunate to subject this particular fish to this homely treatment. However, the family loved it and I got to document yet another meal and ingredient for LTHForum!
  • Post #2 - January 16th, 2008, 4:57 am
    Post #2 - January 16th, 2008, 4:57 am Post #2 - January 16th, 2008, 4:57 am
    For the recipe index:

    Scalloped fish

    Ingredients:

    7-8 medium-sized boiling potatoes
    about 1 cup of peeled, cooked shrimp, mussels, lump crab meat, or even diced tomatoes for garnish
    about 1 pound fish fillets
    2 tablespoons flour
    4 tablespoons butter
    2 cups milk
    ½ cup fish/shellfish stock
    1/3 cup chopped dill
    1 tablespoon lemon zest

    Make mashed potatoes with the potatoes, 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 cup of milk (or make your favorite recipe of mashed potatoes). Melt the remaining 2 tbls butter in a saucepan and whisk in the flour. Whisk and cook the roux for about 5 minutes - do not let brown. Gently add the fish stock and whisk. Add the remaining cup of milk slowly and in small batches. Stop adding milk when the sauce is about as thick as sour cream (alternatively, add more milk or stock if it is too thick). When the consistancy is correct and the sauce has come back to a gentle boil, add salt, peppar (to taste) and the chopped dill and lemon zest.

    Bake the fish fillets in an oven-proof dish at 400 degrees until partially cooked (about 10 minutes). Pipe or spoon the mashed potatoes around the fillets and pour the sauce over the top of the fillets. Bake in a hot oven (425 degrees) until lightly browned. Garnish and serve.
  • Post #3 - January 16th, 2008, 7:45 am
    Post #3 - January 16th, 2008, 7:45 am Post #3 - January 16th, 2008, 7:45 am
    Bridgestone wrote:Image


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    A beautifully done dish and perfectly presented - as always! Thanks for sharing... AND preserving the beautiful shrimp roe - I was almost ready to lament the loss when you mentioned peeling the shrimp. :D
  • Post #4 - January 16th, 2008, 8:00 am
    Post #4 - January 16th, 2008, 8:00 am Post #4 - January 16th, 2008, 8:00 am
    Just gorgeous! As someone very familiar with the concept of "the kids' side," I'm curious to know what you left out (or, I suppose, added) to their side.
  • Post #5 - January 16th, 2008, 8:18 am
    Post #5 - January 16th, 2008, 8:18 am Post #5 - January 16th, 2008, 8:18 am
    Thanks!

    Ann Fisher - I was just kidding a little as I had the 4 nicest fillets bunched on one side (adult) and the tail/belly bits on the other (kids'). If I were not required to make a few concessions for the kids then I'd place the fish on a layer of sliced leeks and/or sauteed spinach. Either one of those two vegetables really enhance this dish but heavily pull down the scores from the 6-year and under judges...

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