Fish Paillard with Ginger, Garlic, and Tomatoes

What black bean cake did for the Santa Fe Bar & Grill in Berkeley, this paillard of fish did for Stars in San Francisco. I developed it with the same purpose: to have at the opening of a restaurant a fast, new, easily cooked, and easily understood dish. It was an instant hit, and can be with you at home. With a little advance chopping and slicing, you have a winner in five minutes. I call this dish a “paillard” because the piece of fish is cut like a paillard of veal—in a very thin slice and pounded even thinner, to use James Beard’s words. It is so thin that you do not have to use a pan to cook the fish, and that is why you can’t overcook it. The heat of the plate and the hot sauce poured over the paillard will do all the cooking. The original recipe had lobster butter drizzled over it, and since then it has also featured fresh chilies, Chinese black beans, and most of the other ingredients that recur throughout this book.

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  • 4 two-ounce slices salmon, tuna, halibut, grouper, red snapper, sturgeon, sea bass, or albacore, skinned, boneless; no thicker than inch
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup fish stock
  • 2-ounce piece fresh ginger, peeled, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • cup tomato concasse
  • 12 sprigs fresh cilantro


Heat the broiler or oven.

Pound the fish slices until they are evenly inch thick. Spread 4 heat-resistant plates with ½ teaspoon of the butter each.

Put the plates in the oven or under the broiler until hot. Season the paillards with salt and pepper and put 1 on each plate. Mix the fish stock, ginger, garlic, and tomato in a sauté pan. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes. Whisk the remaining butter into the sauté pan. Turn the pieces of fish over on the plates and pour the sauce over the fish. By the time you garnish the plates with the cilantro, the fish will be done.