People of the Wolf Fish

Here’s what happened:

I was strolling through the aisles at Trader Joe’s, thinking about a meal I was making for some clients of ours. Being that they were vaguely yogic people and I didn’t want to send them into a premature savasana pose by serving them something that had once been living — other than fish, that is, which somehow doesn’t count as having lived in those circles — I decided to do an all seafood dinner.

Norwegian wolf fish

Norwegian wolf fish

So as I browsed the frozen fish aisle look for something inspiring, dark spots caught my eye — Norwegian wolf fish, a species I had never seen nor even heard of before. And I’m a sucker for new stuff.

Arriving home with my prize, I wondered what sort of things I could find online about Norwegian wolf fish. The first thing I found was another food blog where a girl was browsing the frozen fish aisle at Trader Joe’s and discovered wolf fish. She baked hers and served it on arugula with apple-mint relish, which sounded interesting and unlikely to offend the timid yogurt-soaked palates of the yogis. But I continued my research.

Trader Joe’s themselves described Anarhichas minor on their website as “a sharp-toothed, cold-water fish that’s sustainably harvested for us in the Barents Sea, off the coast of Norway” and “a good substitute for Dover Sole, which shares the mild and slightly sweet flavor of lobster.” They helpfully suggested poaching, pan sautéing or steaming, and “a little drawn butter couldn’t hurt.”

I decided, instead, to “crust” mine with minced scallions (on the non-skin side), crisped up a bit in hot olive oil, then flipped to crisp the skin too. I served it with a beurre blanc over Israeli cous cous with wild greens, and flavor dots of white truffle oil and balsamic reduction. Were I to do it again, I might take the skin off as it was a little overly oily and fishy.

Scallion-crusted wolf fish with beurre blanc and wild greens Israeli cous cous

Scallion-crusted wolf fish with beurre blanc and wild greens Israeli cous cous

What did the yogis think? There was some requisite poking, and only a few questions about the origins of the fish and the non-GMOness of the greens (Although the fish is “wild caught,” I still told them that it came from the sustainable fisherman folks at the farmer’s market. But I was truthful about the greens coming from my own garden). And thus satisfied, they ate up and licked the plates.

Next time you’re browsing the aisles of Trader Joe’s looking for inspiration, grab some Anarhichas minor and dig in! It’s not quite lobster, but it’ll do.

*    *    *

Scallion-crusted wolf fish with beurre blanc and wild greens Israeli cous cous
serves 4

1 to 1.5 lbs. wolf fish filets
4 scallions, white and light green parts, finely chopped
1 tbsp. potato or corn starch
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup Israeli cous cous
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup chopped small leaf “wild” greens (mustard, Russian kale, etc.)
1 tbsp. butter
truffle oil (optional)
balsamic reduction or “glaze” (optional)

beurre blanc

1 cup white wine
2 tbsp. cold butter

Cut your fish into four equal-size pieces. (Remove skin in you prefer.) Pat the top of each filet with about 1 tbsp. of the chopped scallions to coat. Set aside.

Make your cous cous: Place cup of pasta pearls into a saucepan with the chicken stock. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce to medium, cover and cook 10-12 minutes until cous cous is al dente. Remove from heat. Toss in greens, stir in butter, season to taste with salt and pepper and cover.

Heat olive oil over medium-high in a medium skilled, preferably non-stick. Dust the scallions on the fish with potato or corn starch, and fry scallion-side down for 2-3 minutes, until scallions are golden and beginning to crisp. Turn the fish over carefully with a spatula, and cook for another 2 minutes on the second side. Remove from pan to a plate.

Make your beurre blanc: Add the wine to your cooking pan, and turn heat to high. Reduce liquid by 2/3 (this should take 3 – 5 minutes). Remove from heat and swirl in the cold better, velveting the sauce.

To compose: Place a small mound of cous cous on each plate. Top with a piece of fish, scallion-side up, and drizzle beurre blanc over the top. Decorate the plate with drops of white truffle oil and balsamic reduction, if you’d like.

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Vivica
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 00:51:15

    oh those annoying yogis….had they known you used chicken broth for the cous cous, who knows, they might have had to use that breath of fire to purge and move up the kundalini, expelling and detoxifying at the same time!


  2. glennis
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 01:34:06

    It looks howlingly good!


  3. Mom
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 03:36:29

    I naturally tried it the minute I saw it and didn’t like it and I’m pretty tolerant of foreign flavors.


  4. Michelle
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 00:30:19

    Oh my goodness, I glanced at that first photo and thought perhaps you were serving Dalmatian for dinner. 🙂 Funny post—though I admit I have much in common with the yogis (all except for the yoga part), which is probably why I don’t get invited out to dinner very often anymore.


  5. Michelle
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 15:41:44

    It’s more the Portlandia-like questioning of its origins. Though I’d never, never do that at somebody’s house. I promise.


    • scolgin
      Aug 29, 2013 @ 15:43:41

      Ah yes, I have a friend like that. He is now convinced that we can’t eat any seafood because Fukushima is coming across the ocean to our shores.


  6. Haakon
    Nov 19, 2015 @ 13:55:28

    If that thing actually was wild caught, those two years ago, it would have been line-caught, which is a much more responsible method of catching fish than say, trawling is. So buying line-caught fish like you did promotes more sustainable seafood.

    Which is a good thing, because trawlers can downright ruin the seas.

    In other words, it was actually a very environmentally friendly choice.


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