Slowly but surely, we are coming into warmer weather down here in Melbourne (though this week did see 100ºF on Monday followed by a rainy 55ºF on Tuesday).
In any case, my habits in the kitchen are shifting, as they do with each changing season. This basically means less prep early in the day (i.e., marinating meats or cooking down sauces and stews) and more fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants cooking in the evening. As the days get longer, there is less pressure to be so organized and get dinner on the table before the sun sinks below the cityscape. I can start chopping a few things around 5 or 6 o'clock, and have dinner ready (plus glass of rosé on the balcony completed) by 7 or 8. Ah, summer.
Well, it's not quite summer yet; we've still got a few weeks of pleasant weather before the real heat settles in for good (save for the odd 100-degree day). This window is the perfect time to cook some meaty seafood - warm enough to enjoy some brighter, lighter flavors, but not so hot that the oven is off limits. With that in mind, this fish, baked over thinly sliced citrus and onions, made it to the table last week and went down beautifully with a second glass of that rosé.
Note, soaking your fish in a quick brine will keep it firm through cooking and prevent proteins from seeping out - if that does happen, it is totally fine, it just doesn't look that pretty.
Baked Fish with Citrus & Onion
3 cups cold water
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
2 fillets of firm white fish, such as cod, rockling, grouper, or haddock (depending on where you are; find what's local to you)
1 lemon, sliced thinly on a mandolin
1 blood orange, sliced thinly on a mandolin
1 onion halved and sliced thinly on a mandolin
1 tablespoon capers
1 chile, seeded and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup black olives
Preheat oven to 275ºF.
In a small mixing bowl, stir water with 1 tablespoon salt until dissolved. Add fish and allow to rest 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a baking dish, toss lemon, blood orange, onion, capers, and chile with 1 tablespoon olive oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and oregano; shake pan so everything is in an even layer.
Remove fish from water and pat dry with paper towel. Place fish on top of citrus mixture and rub with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Bake until fish is just cooked through, about 40 minutes.
Divide fillets over 2 plates. Using tongs, toss roasted citrus with black olives; pile evenly over fish and serve immediately.