Read the title of this post and you could be forgiven for yawning, slightly, even if you recognize the brilliant simplicity of a wine-shallot sauce. Take a look at the picture, however, and you can see that something else is going on. This recipe Ruhlman's Twenty also works in a beurre manié, a kneaded butter and flour mixture that thickens up the sauce and lends the white and creamy color. Sure, I've made a roux or two in my day, but I've never tried this technique before.
I worried that the sauce would have an uncooked flour profile, but that's not the case. Instead, the sauce is silky and smooth, sticking to the fish in a really elegant way. Thanks to the lemon juice and wine, the sauce helps perk up the flavor of the fish without holding it down.
Why I Picked This Recipe: Over the years, I've grown to appreciate fresh walleye from Canada. But honestly I was mostly intrigued to see how this sauce would work. Though not difficult, this kind of French-inspired dish is not something I cook often. I looked forward to the challenge.
What Worked: Of course, the fish is carefully cared for here, and walleye is one delicious fish. I suppose the best thing I could say is that the tart and creamy sauce doesn't try to cover up the flavor of the fish. Instead, it just accents it in a very delicate way.
What Didn't: It's a very light meal, but that's the point. Everything here worked as directed.
Suggested Tweaks: If you can't track down walleye, Ruhlman also recommends grouper, snapper, and halibut. You can serve this with whatever you'd like, but Ruhlman's cauliflower recipe in the same book—which takes a while and uses more butter than you can probably imagine—is definitely worth trying at least once.
Adapted from Michael Ruhlman's Ruhlman's Twenty
- 2 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 walleye fillets, about six ounce each, skin removed
- fine sea salt
- 1/4 lemon
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter and the tablespoon of flour to a small bowl, and knead together until the flour is completely incorporated. (This is called a beurre manié.)
Add the remaining butter to a large sauté pan set over medium heat. When the butter melts, add the minced shallot and cook until translucent. Add the wine, 1/2 cup of water, and the thyme. Bring the liquid to a simmer, and then lay the fillets in the pan. Cover the pan, and adjust the temperature to keep liquid at a simmer. Continue to simmer until the fillets are cooked, three to four minutes. Remove the fish and set aside on a platter.
Turn the heat to high, add the flour and butter mixture, and cook until the sauce thickens. Season the sauce to taste with salt and lemon.
Transfer each fish fillet to a plate, coat with the sauce, and sprinkle with parsley.