This recipe originally came from Negrita and we've been using it for years because it never fails to produce a tender and delicious chunk of fish. It's important to give your fish enough time to soak so plan to defrost it accordingly.
Skin your defrosted Ling Cod, Halibut, or Rockfish, then cut into the serving size portions you are going to present.
*** Folks don’t mix Halibut with Ling or Rockfish simply because of the cooking time variations. It makes your life easier if you don't.
In a large bowl crack 6 eggs. Add a significant amount of salt. I might add more than a tablespoon - in fact I would. This is because I am not seasoning the meat directly. You will not be eating this salt, only a mere fraction of it. Instead I am using the salt to draw the water out of the meat thereby curing it. This does firm the meat up. I also will add about half as much pepper. Then with a whisk or fork beat the eggs up well - till there is no more gooey whites lumping about in the liquid. Place each piece of fish into this liquid ensuring that each piece is well coated and soaking in the egg mass.
NOTE: If you are doing 2 pieces fish you do not need to use 6 eggs. Just cut things down in proportion. If doing 20 pieces of fish which, we will be able to do again one day, then you may need 2 bowls of egg mass…..The important part is that all surfaces are coated and that the fish is not too tightly packed.
At this point you can leave the fish all day or even preferably overnight. If I am doing this tomorrow I would defrost the fish today, prepare it this evening, and not begin to cook till tomorrow dinnertime.
So now we get to the hard part…
Again if you are only cooking for 2 then simply use one pan. But crowding is an issue and folks, if you have one of those pans, you know the kind, always overcooks or dries out in the middle but seems to cook on the sides…don’t be tempted. All fish requires a quality cooking surface. If you use that pan you are going to have some of your lovely egg crust stick to the pan and your presentation is not so great.
With that out of the way put plenty of butter into your good quality frying pan or pans and let it get sizzley. You want the butter making that crackling sound and you want plenty of it. DO NOT ADD SALT OR PEPPER! Remember that by soaking the fish in salty egg broth you have, through osmosis, pulled water out of the cells and salt into them so your fish is already salted.
Keeping the temperature at a point where the butter still sizzles but doesn’t actually get burned (yes add a little avocado oil to prevent burning if you are concerned) place your fish into the hot pan. Try to have pieces of similar size in the same pan and do not overcrowd. Also too many fish cool the pan down and mess up the cooking time. Keep the temperature up. Those of you who insist on checking and flipping your fish - walk away.
In general, Ling Cod will be 7 minutes on the first side and up to 7 minutes the second. No flipping twice I stress. Halibut will be a max of 7 minutes on one side, flip and remove from the heat. Rockfish is generally thinner but needs to be well cooked so equal times on both sides. You will be able to see as you cook and if you have not overcrowded the pan, see the meat cooking on the sides. It changes from translucent to opaque white. ***You might need to add more butter as the fish will absorb some. When you flip you want the pan to remain buttery.
Know this. Hear me. All fish are not the same size and all pieces are not the same thickness. At this point you will have to assess your own frying pan for yourself. Halibut tails taper and can be quite thin. From tip to tail a Halibut or Ling cod varies significantly in thickness. If you are cooking 2 pans and have the thinner ends and thicker pieces, put the thicker ones on first, then the thinner in the other pan but use the same cooking time as a guide. Ultimately you are the cook in charge and have to use your eyes to make the final call.
It is also important to have your plates ready to serve. I plate food and put it out. If you are putting onto the table on a platter for individual serving DON’T stack it as the cooking process continues. Almost better to serve it onto people’s plates directly from the pan to avoid that.
And personally I don’t like to add a sauce to the served fish (I think it is because I don’t always have time to make one) but tartar sauce or a cantaloupe mango salsa or a green apple salsa all are really nice additions. Happy to share these recipes if anyone is interested.
Finally you can make a holiday version of this simply by dipping the soaked fish into crushed red and green tortilla chips and pan-frying after according to the instructions above. You could dip into anything really but I don’t because I like the golden brown of the egg crust with butter. Hmmmm Panko? Anything is possible.
Please share your variations and experiences if you try this recipe and we want to hear, good or bad!