Mark McEwan, Toronto chef, restaurateur, and the new host of the Food Network's Top Chef Canada, loves sustainably fished Lake Erie yellow perch because of its firm, mildly sweet flesh and tasty thin skin that lends itself nicely to crisping up in a hot pan. Combined with a creamy risotto and spring peas, this dish makes a well-balanced dinner for fall entertaining.
1 batch risotto
8 Lake Erie yellow perch fillets, about 2 oz. each*
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup frothed butter sauce
Sprigs of chervil or minced chives
* Any fish of similar qualities will work as a stand-in.
Step 1: Begin cooking the risotto, and when the risotto is nearly done, pat the perch fillets dry with paper towels. Rub them lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Step 2: Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium-high and add the vegetable oil and butter.
Step 3: When the butter has stopped foaming, add the fillets skin side down and immediately place a slightly smaller skillet over them to prevent curling.
Step 4: After about 2 minutes, remove the top skillet, flip the fish, and cook uncovered until done, about 2 minutes more. Transfer the fish to a warm plate.
Step 5: Finish the risotto. Plate individually or on a serving platter, topping the risotto with perch fillets arranged skin side up. Finish with butter sauce, if desired, and the garnish.
Substitutions: Pickerel fillets (pictured) cut into small portions work just as nicely in this dish as the perch. And looking beyond local sources, red mullet is a superb and prettily coloured alternative.
Suggested wine: crisp Soave
Reprinted with permission from Mark McEwan's Great Food At Home (2010 Penguin Group Canada).
Watch Lynda Reeves learn two other delicious recipes from Mark McEwan on our Online TV show.