Friday, June 27, 2014

Grilled Fish with Caper Vinaigrette

by Sheila Connolly

For some mysterious reason, lately I’ve been possessed by a need to sort and toss stuff. Kind of like the reverse of nesting. Unnesting? My daughter moved out over two years ago, so it’s not that. Maybe I’ve finally reached a breaking point because I’m surrounded by a WHOLE LOT OF STUFF (yes, I’m shouting).

As a small part of this I’ve been going through my recipe collection, both the inherited ones and the ones I started collecting as soon as I had my first kitchen (which was about ten feet square with two cupboards). The oldest recipes come on stained file cards and yellowed newspaper clippings, then progress through Xerox copies of others, and finally neatly typed and formatted copies (such as those from the last five years of Mystery Lovers Kitchen!).

I’ve been sorting them, thinking tabs might be nice if I ever want to find anything (I confess that the Sweet recipes acquired their very own binder years ago--and they do have tabs!). I made a number of happy discoveries: “Oh, look! I saved that!” Having completely forgotten about the recipe, of course. But it’s nice to find recipes that are both tasty and quick, especially for summer, that I tucked away years ago.  Here is one of my finds (or refinds?), an easy grilled fish recipe.


1/4 cup unsalted butter

1 Tblsp olive oil
1/4 cup minced shallots
2 Tblsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tblsp capers, drained
1 tsp fresh herbs, chopped (use whatever you like or have fresh)
1 15-oz can white beans (garbanzo, Northern, etc.), rinsed and drained
1 tsp lemon peel, finely grated
1 1/2 lbs firm-fleshed white fish filets (cod, haddock)

Heat the butter in a small skillet over medium heat until brown, stirring often–about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. (If you want, you can strain off the milk solids, which look kind of like brown sand, but they won’t affect the flavor.)

The browned butter (sounds better in French:
beurre noir)

Mix in the oil, then the shallots, vinegar, capers and herbs (I used fresh thyme).  Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Brush both sides of the fish filets with the warm vinaigrette, then season with salt and pepper. I used cod filets because (a) they were fresh and locally caught, and (b) they are sturdy enough to stand up to grilling.

Mix the beans, lemon peel and the rest of the vinaigrette in a bowl and keep warm. (You can add other vegetables of your choice.)

When your coals are ready, grill the fish quickly (cover the grill briefly to make sure the fish is cooked through, but it shouldn't take long).  Place the fish on plates and spoon the warm bean mixture alongside.

I confess that over the years I’ve had little luck with grilling fish directly on my (yes, vintage) Weber grill. However, several years ago I purchased a perforated tray with handles, that fits very neatly on the grill. I don’t get the nice grill marks on the fish, but the smoky flavor comes through and the poor fish pieces don’t self-destruct when you try to scrape them off the grill.

I served the fish with a salad of fresh New Jersey romaine and sliced locally-grown French radishes.

Razing the Dead, Museum Mystery #5, released June 3rd. 

Zac Bissonnette of Writer's Digest had this to say:  "... best book in the series. Really vivid/amazing pacing/and great incorporation of historical stuff/a view into that world ... it's so rare that series get better, but this one most definitely has."


  1. I love capers Sheila! I'd eat the fish just to get to the sauce...

  2. LOL, I agree with Lucy!!!! Love capers. I also love your new book, "Razing the Dead" - I don't want it to end. I'll have to buy one of those perforated pans, I just use aluminum foil that I poke holes in when I grill fish.

  3. Tasty delight. Great tip on the pan for the fish. They do like to become one with the grill, don't they?

  4. It seems like fish always wants to stick to the grill, no matter how much oil is involved. I love your solution.

    Years ago, I organized my recipes (no tabs, though) in a binder. One of my friends saw it, gave me a sad look and said, "Honey, you have too much time on your hands." LOL! But I still use it. Love that I know where to find them. It's like reaching for a cookbook.

  5. Sheila, I agree re: the pan on top. Really helps the fish stay intact and not fall through the cracks. Love your thoughts on the recipe cards (PS plays right into the book I'm writing!)
    Daryl / Avery

  6. Sounds yummy! I love capers too. Glad you found this recipe!! Maybe you need a museum with old recipes and cookbooks.