Fast and Easy Plate-Cooked Fish Paillard with Ginger, Garlic, and Tomatoes

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Jeremiah Tower Cooks

By Jeremiah Tower

Published 2002

  • About

What the black bean cake did for the Santa Fe Bar and Grill in Berkeley, this paillard of fish did for Stars in San Francisco. I developed it with the same purpose: to present, at the opening of a restaurant, a fast, new, easily cooked, foolproof, and easily understood dish. With a little advance chopping and slicing, you can serve this winning dish 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, which is then pounded even thinner. It is so thin that you do not have to use a pan to cook the fish, which is why you can’t overcook it—the heat of the plate and the hot sauce poured over the paillard 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. So feel free to make your own version.

If you cut open plastic ziplock bags or something similar, very lightly oil the insides, and gently pound the fish between the two sides of plastic, the job of pounding is very easy.


  • 4 2-ounce slices boneless and skinless fillet of salmon, tuna, halibut, grouper, red snapper, sturgeon, sea bass, or albacore, no thicker than¼ inch
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup fish stock
  • 1 2-ounce piece fresh ginger, peeled, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • cup chopped tomatoes
  • 12 sprigs fresh cilantro
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the broiler or oven.

Pound the fish slices until they are evenly -inch thick.

Put four heat-resistant plates in the oven or under the broiler until hot. Remove and brush each one with ½ teaspoon of the butter.

Season the paillards of fish with salt and pepper and put one on each plate. Mix the fish stock, ginger, garlic, and tomatoes in a sauté pan. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes. Whisk the remaining butter into the sauce and pour it over the fish.

By the time you garnish the plates with the cilantro, the fish will be done.


Use sturgeon and garnish the center of the cooked fish with a tablespoon of spiced crabmeat, cooked fish in green goddess mayonnaise, or preserved tuna in sour cream mixed with ancho chili puree. Or use radish salad as on the sea bass. And spoon over the fish your choice of a flavored cream from a puree of chipotle, mixed herbs, or a ginger puree. Or cut open an avocado, dice it, add a teaspoon of cumin and 2 tablespoons lime juice, and put that in the center of the cooked fish.