Friday, September 16, 2016

Fish Filets with Mustard Sauce

(This recipe was adapted from The Seafood Cookbook: Classic to Contemporary, by Pierre Franey and Bryan Miller (1986))

I’ve been collecting recipes for a long time, and now they fill two large binders, one for savory recipes, the other for sweet. Note that the sweet recipes far outnumber the savory ones. Guess that tells you something.

These recipes come from all sorts of sources. One is a hand-scrawled recipe for lobster Cantonese, which I made with a group of friends in our college dorm circa 1970 (we kept the live lobsters in the bathtub on our floor until we were ready to start cooking). Some come from friends, like my easy chocolate mousse recipe, from a guy who dated a number of my roommates. I subscribed to both Bon Appetit and Gourmet for a number of years, and copied recipes I thought sounded good. Others I clipped from newspapers in several different states and carefully saved.

How many have I used? Maybe 20 percent. But every now and then I go rummaging for something different—and that’s where this recipe popped up in the Savory binder.

In our house we eat fish at least once a week, and white fish and salmon offer endless options for cooking and sauces. This rediscovered recipe was a happy surprise: while it dates for 1986, it’s reasonably health and quite quick and easy to prepare. Brilliant of me to save it for thirty years, right?

Fish Filets with Mustard Sauce

(note: this recipe serves four, but I reduced it for two at home)


3 Tblsp olive oil
6 skinless fish filets (you can use any firm-fleshed white fish), about 2 lbssalt and freshly ground pepper4 Tblsp Dijon mustard1/3 cup finely chopped shallots1 Tblsp minced garlic3/4 lb small fresh mushrooms2 tsp dry white wine4 Tblsp unsalted butterChopped parsley (optional)


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Select a baking pan large enough to hold the filets in one layer without crowding.

Pour the olive oil over the bottom of the pan. Turn the filets in the oil to coat, then sprinkle with salt and pepper and brush with mustard.

Scatter the shallots, garlic and mushrooms around the filets.

Place the baking pan on top of the stove and heat until the oil begins to sizzle. Add the wine and bring to a simmer.

Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 15 minutes (keep an eye on the filets—if they’re thin, you may not need to cook them this long, and you don’t want to overcook them). Baste, then return the pan to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes.

Remove the fish to a serving platter. Swirl the butter in the baking pan until it melts, the pour over the filets. (If you’re being health-conscious, you can omit the butter—there’s plenty of flavor from the other ingredients.)

Sprinkle with parsley if you like, then serve immediately.

It’s nice to see that some of the older recipes stand the test of time!

Oh, right, there's a book coming: Seeds of Deception, October 4th (soon!).

Yes, there are recipes--even sleuths have to eat. 

Waiting for you at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


  1. Simply and obviously quite tasty.
    Love the notebooks. My recipe collection got so large that I bought a free-standing box for hanging files. A folder for each possible category.
    But, somehow, there is a pile of un-filed recipes on the counter next to the box. Hm How did that happen?

  2. I have binders like these, too! Mine are divided into "tried and true" recipes and "recipes to try." They are both growing by leaps and bounds. I noticed one thing in your post --1986 was 30 years ago???!!! How did that happen. Come to think of it, my daughter was born in 1984 and she's 32 so I guess you're right! I'm trying to learn new ways to cook fish so this recipe is great and perfect for a week night.