To many of us, the word “braising” conjures up thoughts of slow-cooked short ribs, pot roast, or chicken, but probably not fish. The moist, slow heat of a braise is ideal for melting tough cuts of meat into tender morsels, so why bother using the technique with fish, which is naturally tender? Because by braising fish, you’ll get the benefits—melt-in-your-mouth texture and a full-flavored pan sauce—without the long cooking time. The recipes here are speedy enough for a weeknight yet fancy enough for company. And the chunky vegetables in the braising liquid double as a vegetable side dish, so in the end, you have a saucy, hearty, one-pan meal.
I use a simple three-step method.
First, I make the sauce, which includes vegetables, aromatics, and a liquid like wine or clam juice. Next, I nestle the fish into the sauce, piling some of the vegetables on top to keep the fish moist. Then I cover the pan and finish the dish in the oven. Once it’s done, I remove the fish from the sauce. Though the sauce is perfectly delicious as is, in two of the recipes (the red snapper and the salmon), I like to reduce it slightly to concentrate the flavors, especially when I’m cooking for guests. This is also the perfect opportunity to add a few finishing touches, like vinegar or fresh herbs.
1. Make a flavorful sauce with aromatics and vegetables.
2. Nestle the fish into the sauce, pile on some vegetables, and cook in the oven.
3. Remove the fish and finish the sauce.