• Potato Rafts with Lemon-Steamed Fish

    May 29, 2015

    Sounds pretty summery, doesn’t it? The word raft caught my eye, and I knew I had to try it. Seasoned potatoes stacked on top of each other like single-serve gratins do double-duty as a baking surface. I got the recipe from The Kitchn and altered it by adding shallots to the bottom of the potato stack. With the high heat, the shallots caramelize and add sweetness and texture to the potatoes. Annabella has been craving potatoes, and she gave this dish a double-thumbs up. So, it’s a keeper.

    Most of my loyal readers know that Annabella and I are moving back to the West Coast this summer. We are bidding adieu to surf, sun and snow, and looking forward to visiting old haunts and reconnecting with old friends. A For Sale sign hangs in our front yard, and cardboard boxes are stacking up in the attic and basement. For the moment, we are living in limbo. It’s not a comfortable place. The kitchen will be the last room packed, and I am making a mental note of what to put in the “Load Last” box. Cast-iron skillet for everything – risotto, eggs, frittatas, enchiladas, gratins. My knives. Good, sharp ones. Bamboo cutting board. My new iced tea pitcher (it makes sangria too, and cucumber water). Pastry cutter (for scraping the counters and cutting boards), smoothie blender and hand blender. Tea kettle and spices. The limbo stage has some advantages – living lean with my possessions pared down to bare necessities makes me feel lighter. For a little while anyway.

    The next few recipes will be based on what’s left in the cupboard – cook with what you have. Masa harina, udon noodles, polenta, arborio rice, gluten-free bread crumbs … I’ll see if I can make something palatable to share. Maybe a swan song to lobster (is there a pun in there?)?

    Last year, I was cooking Springtime Risotto.

    Potato Rafts with Lemon-Steamed Fish

    Serves 4

    2 medium Russet potatoes, sliced thinly
    2 T olive oil
    4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
    2-3 shallots, sliced thinly
    Sea salt
    Black pepper
    4 fish fillets, haddock, cod or halibut
    4 T butter
    1 lemon, sliced thinly
    8 sprigs fresh thyme (or other fish-friendly herbs, see note)
    2 T capers, drained

    1. Preheat oven to 425º. Grease a sheet pan or use a silicone baking sheet.
    2. Toss thinly sliced potatoes with garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Assemble your rafts by placing the shallots on the foundation. Layer the potatoes on top of shallots. You will probably have 3-4 rows of potatoes. Roast the rafts until golden brown and getting crispy on the edges – about 30 minutes.
    3. Remove rafts from oven. Blot fish fillets dry with a paper towel. Place one fillet on each raft, season with salt and pepper. Put a pat of butter on each along with a few slices of lemon, thyme or other herbs. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes. Spoon a few capers atop the rafts, and serve straight from the oven.


    •  This is a monochromatic (however tasty) dish, so serve this with brightly colored green salad – kale, spinach, red romaine – or roasted carrots.
    • I didn’t have fresh thyme for this go-round. I did have lemon balm that made it through the winter (that amazes me) and garlic chives, so I sliced the balm into ribbons and chopped the chives and sprinkled them on top. The lemon balm gets crunchy and has a great lemon flavor.
    • I used haddock for this round, and it melted in our mouths.
    • I use a mandoline to get the potatoes slivery thin. A sharp knife will do.
    Lemon and lemon balm slivers.

    Lemon and lemon balm slivers.

    The raft on dry land.

    The raft on dry land.

    High heat and olive oil helps make the potato edges extra crispy.

    High heat and olive oil helps make the potato edges extra crispy.