As we noted above, if fish is baked with moist ingredients or with liquids, strictly speak-ing,the method is no longer a dry-heat method, although such preparations are included in this section. In French cooking, baking fish—usually whole fish or large pieces—with vegetables and liquid is called braising.To avoid confusion with the braising method as applied to meats,however,we avoid that term and refer to such dishes as baked.
This procedure is the same as the basic procedure for baking fish described above, with the following special features:
1. The baking pan should be just large enough to hold the fish, so you will not need too much liquid.
2. The bottom of the pan is buttered or oiled, then covered with a layer of sliced or chopped vegetables, such as carrots, onions, shallots, and mushrooms.The vegetables may be raw or first sautéed gently in butter or oil.The fish is then placed on top of the vegetables.
3. Frequently, a small amount of liquid, such as equal parts wine and fish stock, is added. Just enough liquid is used to cover the fish about halfway or less. During baking, the fish is basted with this liquid.
4. The fish may be baked uncovered or covered only lightly. It should not be covered tightly, however, because the liquid must be able to reduce somewhat so it will become more concentrated and more flavorful. Remember also that more liquid will be released from the fish, diluting the cooking liquid.
5. For service, the fish is removed from the dish.The liquid is strained, degreased, reduced, and finished in various ways, such as by adding butter, cream, or velouté sauce.
You can see that this is a sort of combination technique. Because it often uses wine and other liquids, the method is, in some ways, similar to poaching in wine, as explained on page 483.
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