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 Pan-fried haddock all'Alba Simple but delicious, this pan-fried fish fillet gains a lovely Northwestern Italian accent from browned butter and sage.
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Pan-fried haddock all'Alba

Returning today to a frequent theme, "It's a gift to be simple," an American Shaker hymn expressing a concept that Italian cooks (and many others) share, let's have a taste of a truly simple yet almost mind-blowingly delicious recipe for haddock or other white, mild and firm-fleshed fish.

An invention inspired by a recipe in the recently translated English version of the Italian Silver Spoon cookbook, it's a ridiculously simple pan-fry flavored with browned butter and fresh sage, a simple marriage of flavors that go together like Italy and sunshine. We discovered the joy of butter and sage over pasta in a little trattoria in Alba years ago, hence my affectionate christening of this haddock fry as "all'Alba" for its use of the same pronounced yet subtle flavors.

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

12 to 16 ounces (350-500g) fresh haddock, perch or similar white fish
1/4 cup white flour
Black pepper
4 ounces butter
12 to 20 fresh sage leaves


1. Put the flour, salt and pepper on a large plate. Dredge each piece of fish in the seasoned flour, coating it lightly on all sides but knocking off any excess.

2. Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat. (I prefer a nonstick skillet, which helps ensure that the fish won't stick and also lets me get away with a little less butter, but don't cut back too far, as that addictive nutty browned-butter flavor is a part of the glory of this dish.) Put in the sage leaves, let them fry for a few seconds, and put in the fish pieces. Cook them on one side without moving them for 2 or 3 minutes, until the underside is crisp and brown; then turn carefully, using a large, thin spatula, and pan-fry on the other side for 2 or 3 minutes more or until done. Check seasoning and serve, garnished with lemon slices and the fried sage leaves.

WINE MATCH: Any dry white wine with medium to full body will work fine, with extra credit, in my mind, for an Italian wine match. We went to the other end of the Italian "boot," accompanying the dinner with a blind tasting of two excellent wines from Campania, the Feudi San Gregorio 2004 Falanghina and Fiano.

If you have questions, comments or ideas to share about this recipe or food and cookery in general, you're welcome to drop by either of our interactive forums, where I've posted this article as a new topic, "Pan-fried haddock all'Alba."

If you have basic how-to questions, you might enjoy the teaching environment of the Food & Drink section in our online WineLovers Community,

If you're a serious "foodie" or interested in peer support as you move into more advanced culinary realms, check out the same topic in our FoodLovers Discussion Group, where you'll find today's article at

Finally, if you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at

Want a copy that's easy to use in the kitchen? You'll find a simple, plain-text version of this recipe, suitable for printing, online at

Last Week's FoodLetter and Archives

Last week's Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Greens and sausage soup (March 16, 2006)

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Thursday, March 23, 2006
Copyright 2006 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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