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Fish with Lemon and Caper Sauce

Piccata is a traditional Milanese preparation in which a pan sauce of butter, lemon juice and capers is spooned over thin slices of sautéed veal. But that same trio of ingredients is also used in southern Italy as the basis of a sauce for white fish, especially those with a delicate texture. Simple steamed vegetables are a good accompaniment.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp. capers, preferably salt-packed
  • 4 mahimahi or other firm white fish fillets, each 6 to 8 oz.
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon

Directions:

If using salt-packed capers, place them in a small bowl, add cold water to cover and soak for 20 minutes. Drain, rinse well and drain again, then pat dry on paper towels. If using vinegar-packed capers, rinse under cold running water, drain and pat dry.

Season the fish lightly with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Arrange the fish in the pan and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides and opaque throughout but still moist looking in the center when tested with a knife, 6 to 8 minutes total. Using a slotted spatula or spoon, transfer the fish to a warmed platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and lemon juice, increase the heat to medium-high and boil until the sauce thickens slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the parsley, capers and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper.

Pour the warm sauce over the fish and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Mediterranean Cooking, by Charity Ferreira, Dana Jacobi & Carolyn Miller (Oxmoor House, 2008).