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Mayonnaise is used for simplicity, as well as for its wonderful ability to brown up and form a nice glaze. If you wish for something lower calorie and lower cholesterol, you can use whipped egg whites instead, although it may not brown nearly as well. You could whip the whites and fold in the whisked yolk if you want loft and richness as well. If you do not have green garlic, just use a single clove of garlic minced or just season the pan by cooking the whole clove in the oil you’ll cook the spinach in. Don’t have oyster mushrooms? Don’t worry about it. Cook ¼ of a finely diced white or yellow onion and cook it until soft before adding spinach. Although the recipe looks long, it is really not. There are just lots of tips to ensure this is an easy dish.
4-6 cups young spinach leaves, cleaned and dried on a kitchen towel
1 cup hand-torn then chopped oyster mushrooms
2 tablespoons dry white wine such as a verdelho or sauvignon blanc
2-3 green garlic stalks, white part only, split lengthwise then finely sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 scant cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
Neutral flavored oil or light flavored olive oil, as needed
4 fillets, around 4-6 ounces each and not thicker than ½ inch, of Petrale or Dover sole, or tilapia.
Note: Always look for smaller tilapia fillets as the larger ones have a muddier flavor and are usually tougher textured. Put this down to being tank raised, as are catfish.
Heat oven to 450°F. Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat.
When the skillet is hot, just barely film the skillet with oil. Add the mushrooms and very lightly season with salt. Toss to disperse the salt. Cook, tossing and stirring until the mushrooms give up their liquid and become soft and start to color a little. Add the white wine, tossing to coat the mushrooms, and cook until the liquid is reduced. Transfer to a non-reactive bowl.
Film the pan with oil and add the green garlic. Cook gently until the garlic is completely soft but without any browning. If needed to prevent coloring, add water or wine a little at a time, being sure to cook it all off before adding anymore. When translucent, soft, and fragrant, transfer to the bowl with the mushrooms.
Change the heat to low or medium-low, ensure there is a light film of oil in the pan, then add the spinach all at once, or as much as will fit, adding the rest as the spinach shrinks. Cook gently so the spinach wilts. Use tongs to turn the spinach as it wilts so it all is exposed to heat and does not suddenly give up all its liquid. Season with pepper, toss with the tongs and remove from heat. Continue turning until all the spinach is no longer raw/wilted/just cooked.
Roll the spinach up in a kitchen towel and gently squeeze or blot dry. When dry, place on a cutting board and chop finely. Transfer to bowl with mushrooms and garlic. Mix well.
Switch oven to broil. Put fish filets onto a sturdy sheet pan with sides that has been covered with foil and lightly oiled. Don’t crowd the fillets or they will steam rather than cook and get a crust. Put the oven rack about 3-inches from the broiler.
Add the lemon juice to the mayonnaise and whisk in. Add the mayonnaise to the bowl with the vegetables and gently combine so the vegetables are thoroughly coated. Use a spoon or spreader to coat the fish evenly with the spinach mayo mixture as if you are frosting a cake. The mixture should not be more than ¼-inch thick. Keep it even on the fish and on all four fillets so everything cooks evenly.
When the fillets are coated, place on the oven rack under the broiler. Cook for 8 minutes, then check. The coating should be a bit bubbly, and golden with plenty of browning. (When done, it will look like something cheesy that is perfectly gooey.) To check if the fish is done, press down gently on the head end with a fingertip-the fish should flake easily and be cooked all the way through. If not, give it another 2 minutes and check again. If, for some reason, the crust is quite brown and the fish is barely cooked, turn off the broiler and crank the oven to 500°, and return the fish. Cook until done, which should be a total of 4-5 minutes more than the original 8 minutes.
When done, remove to plates or a decorative platter. Use a spatula long enough to hold the entire fillet or it will break. Serve hot!
Source: Chef Andrew E Cohen
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