Friday, August 12, 2011

Shrimp Stuffed Fish Fillets

Sometimes recipe ideas come from the strangest places.

The idea for Shrimp Stuffed Fish Fillets was actually a collision between two thoughts:  I’d been thinking about court bouillon (literally, “quick broth” for those who parlez-vous), the wonderful and classic  liquid used for braising fish, and also thinking about braciole, a delicious Italian dish made by stuffing and rolling a thin piece of beef or pork with, well, pretty much anything you want to stuff it with. Since my favorite recipe projects usually involve doing something twisted with a dish that would otherwise be considered normal, I saw an opportunity to combine the two ideas by doing a stuffed, rolled thin fish fillet, braised in court bouillon, and topped with a drizzle of sage-infused olive oil. For sides, I selected a tomato casserole my wife taught me, and some admittedly nondescript rice cooked in vegetable broth.

The recipe as described below serves four.

If you decide to make the tomato casserole as a side dish, you’ll want to get that going first so you can prepare the fish and filling while the casserole is baking:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Melt ¼ cup of butter substitute in a saucepan over medium heat. Put in 1 small chopped onion and cook until tender, the remove from the heat and stir in 1-1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs (fresh works especially well for this); 1 teaspoon of kosher salt; ½ teaspoon dried basil; and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.

Cut 2 pints of cherry tomatoes in half, and line the bottom of a 1-1/2 quart casserole dish with ¼ of the tomatoes. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sugar on top of the tomatoes, then 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan, then ¼ of the bread crumb mixture. Repeat the tomatoes-sugar-parmesan- bread crumb mixture process three more times until everything has been used.

Cover the casserole and back for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. To brown the top layer of bread crumbs slightly, uncover the casserole and bake for another five minutes.

To make the fish, we first prepare the court bouillon. Court bouillon is technically defined as an acidulated vegetable broth, but that’s much too complicated a way to think of something that really is very simple. How simple? Check this out:

Combine your ingredients in any pot large enough to hold them: 4 cups of water; 1 cup of dry white wine (I used Chardonnay); the juice of ½ lemon; 1 medium onion, chopped;  ½ stalk of celery, chopped; 1 crushed garlic clove; 6 whole peppercorns; ¼ teaspoon fresh thyme; 1 bay leaf; ½ carrot, chopped; 1 teaspoon of kosher salt; 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley; and 2 tablespoons of fresh sage. (The solids will be strained out after the broth is made, so you don’t have to make the chopped vegetables very beautiful, and can even leave the papery outside on the crushed garlic for extra flavor.) Bring it to a boil, lower the heat a bit to a simmer. After simmering for 30 minutes, strain out the solids and pour the liquid into a pan deep enough to hold whatever fish you’re planning to braise.

While it’s simmering, you can prepare the filling. (This part is even easier than the court bouillon!)

Put your filling ingredients together in a large bowl: 1 pound of finely chopped raw shrimp (cleaned and shelled, of course); 2/3 cup chopped fresh basil; ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley; 4 sprigs fresh thyme; 2 shallots, finely chopped; ½ cup plain bread crumbs; 2 chopped garlic cloves; 1 egg-substitute egg; 1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt; and ¼ teaspoon fresh-ground pepper. Mix till combined, then cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to fill your fillets.

Since that doesn’t take long to do, you’ll probably also have time to make your sage-oil:

Finely chop 2 tablespoons of fresh sage in a mini-processor. Add ¼ cup of olive oil, and process a few more moments till the oil and sage are combined.

And now for our fish. I used flounder fillets, but any fish fillets you like should be fine.

Brush both sides of your fillets lightly with olive oil, then season with kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper. Spread some shrimp filling on top of each fillet, roll them up, and secure each with one or two toothpicks. (You’ll have extra filling when you’re done stuffing the fish. Not to worry; cook it in a pan for a few minutes until the shrimp pieces are cooked through, and spoon some onto your plate as a bed for the stuffed fillets when you’re ready to serve.)

Bring the court bouillon back to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer, and carefully place the stuffed fish into the hot braising liquid. Simmer till the fish flakes and the shrimp is cooked. (This should generally take 6 – 10 minutes depending on your fish fillet, but check it while it’s cooking.)

To serve the stuffed fish, put some of the cooked extra stuffing on the plate, place a stuffed fish fillet on top of that, and finish it by drizzling some of the sage-olive oil. Add your sides, and you’ve not only got yourself a delicious fish dinner, but also a great method for braising other fish dishes too.

That’s it for this week. Please visit again next week for another fun, easy, reduced fat recipe!

If you prefer a cookbook-style, notebook-ready copy of these or any other recipes you see here on Kissing the Cook, just say the word!

Hope to see you next week! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)


  1. dude!

    I love fish....I don't know why I don't have it more often...

  2. Thanks, Amy...and just think: this recipe gives you two fishes!

  3. Sounds wonderful. Will have to try it....I have loads of garden tomatoes!!!! Yellow ones..

  4. Thanks. Yellow tomatoes sound like they would be great in the casserole. (I used cherry tomatoes from my garden, but had to supplement with some purchased ones since not quite enough of the yard ones were ripe.)

  5. Not really a huge fish fan, but this sounds good!

  6. Thank you, Tawnya. If you prefer, court bouillon is also sometimes used to cook vegetables, too!