Poach fish in olive oil for an elegant presentation

05/26/2014 2:16 PM

05/28/2014 5:29 PM

How often do you look at that bottle of wonderful extra virgin olive oil in your kitchen and wish you had more uses for it, other than as a salad dressing or a dip for bread?

An easy weeknight dish is pasta tossed in olive oil, minced garlic, basil and sun-dried tomatoes. It’s easy to cook, and healthy, as are so many recipes using olive oil. When marinating chicken, beef or fish, extra virgin olive oil is the key ingredient.

When baking, substituting olive oil for butter eliminates much of the saturated fat and also infuses a distinct texture that can elevate the average chocolate cake into a delectable and healthier delight. The next time you serve baked potatoes, top them with extra virgin olive oil or use olive oil instead of butter in mashed potatoes.

Cooks from Italy and France have been poaching fish in olive oil for centuries to keep the fish moist but not watery.

Food drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil infused with herbs and other flavoring elements such as lemon, garlic and chile pepper takes on a new dimension.

Good-quality infused oils are available in local supermarkets or online. However, if you can’t find the flavor of your choice, you can make your own.

Simply bring a medium size pot of water to a boil. Add 1 cup of basil leaves or other herb (rosemary, parsley, mint, thyme) and blanch for 30 seconds. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Blend herbs in a food processor with 1 cup extra virgin olive oil (not the most expensive bottle) and a pinch of salt. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer lined with a coffee filter. The oil will last about a month in the refrigerator.

When you want to make something to impress guests, a new date or a longtime companion, this oil-poached fish is the most elegant of dishes. Serve it with roasted baby potatoes and accompany it with a crisp, acidic white wine such as Groth 2013 Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley ($20).

Carole Kotkin is manager of the Ocean Reef Club cooking school and co-host of Food & Wine Talk on southfloridagourmet.com.

About Carole Kotkin

Carole Kotkin
Veteran cooking teacher Carole Kotkin is the manager of the Ocean Reef Cooking School in Key Largo. She co-hosts ''Food & Wine Talk'' from 11 a.m. to noon Mondays at southfloridagourmet.com and is the co-author of MMMMiami-Tempting Tropical Tastes for Home Cooks Everywhere.

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