Sep 1, 2010

Birthday Dinner: Fish w/ Tomato Butter Sauce

So it's my birthday.  But don't feel obligated to wish me anything.  I'm not a big birthday person.

Except for the food part, of course.  It's always been tradition in my family that the birthday gal or guy gets to pick the meal. 

Now that I can do.

And since I blog it's extra special.  Because I have to plan ahead.  Which means I had to pick and make my birthday meal last week so I'd have it ready for posting.  Which means I got a second birthday meal.  The Husband thought there was no way the fish dish I made could qualify as a birthday dinner since we had it late last week.  So he took me out to my favorite Mexican restaurant.

I could get used to this.  No-no, really, I could.


Today I have a recipe that I've been diggin on for a while: Fish w/ Tomato Butter Sauce.  If you know me at all, you know it's not so much about the fish as it is about the sauce.  I looooves me some sauce. 

 And this sauce is fan-freakin-tastic.

It's something I adapted from Emeril, which kind of embarrasses me to say.  I have issues with Emeril.  But several years ago a friend made Emeril's tomato butter and I fell in love without knowing whose recipe it was.  I guess love is blind.

Anyway, I've made some changes.  First I added "sauce" to the title.  The name Tomato Butter implies that you're getting a compound butter and this is definitely a spoonable, pourable, slurp up with a straw, bathe in ...oh...ahem...sauce. 

Second, Emeril spoons this on over-the-top crab stuffed shrimp.  The crab stuffed shrimp are also very good, but I think it's too much with the tomato butter sauce.  I prefer a very simple baked fish fillet so the sauce can really stand out. 

Last, I seriously reduced the butter.  Emeril uses 1 stick; I use 3 Tbsp (which makes my version a little thin, I'll admit)

Yeah, it's my birthday and I should celebrate.  But it's time to be sensible--I'm gettin within smackin distance of 40.  Hint: when I do smack right into it, today's high school freshman will be a senior. 

Do the math, but do it quietly.  And for pity's sake, do not show your work. 
We went fishing out of Empire, LA recently, almost to the Gulf.  So I had some great fresh fish to use for this recipe.  Here's an example of what we caught:

That's me sans head because by this point, I'd been up since 4 AM and in the sun and wind for hours.  And closer to 40 than I'd like to be.  No one needs to see that.  This redfish is the biggest fish I've ever caught--20 pounds give or take an ounce.  I could shove my whole arm down its throat.  Or maybe The Boy's head.  Ok, maybe not.

On with the show...

Mise en place for Tomato Butter Sauce: about 5 ripe roma tomatoes, shrimp stock, minced garlic, salt, pepper, cayenne, butter

Emeril says to seed and skin the tomatoes.  I think wasting all that juicy tomato goo is a crime.  And a waste of my time.
Chop about 5 romas (you'll need 1 1/2 cups).  Mash while heating.

Next add the shrimp stock, garlic, and seasonings.  Let's chat a moment about the shrimp stock.
The recipe only takes 1/4 c, so you might be tempted to use something else.  I was.  And did.
And it wasn't nearly as good.  Don't skip it!

Let me interrupt for a minute or two with some timing tips.
Like any butter sauce, once the butter goes in: 
ya need to get ya eatin on, baby.
No one wants an oily, separated sauce.
That puts the pressure on, doesn't it?
And I don't deal well with that.

So for timing the meal:
I like to prepare the sauce until this point then go to work on the fish.
But keep the sauce warm or reheat just before adding the butter.

For the fish: fish (um, duh), Tony's.  That is all.
Sprinkle both sides of your fish (any firm white fish) w/ Tony's.
Bake or broil until the fish flakes.

Back to the sauce.  Cut the butter in cubes.  When you're about to take the fish out of the oven, stir the butter into the sauce a few cubes at a time.   
Like I mentioned earlier, I reduced the amount to 3 TBSP (from an entire stick).
Up to you.

After the butter melts in, the sauce will be rich and velvety. 

We enjoyed this with sauteed zucchini.
And I gave up my traditional birthday Red Velvet Cake to take advantage of a sale on blueberries.
We had Blueberry Focaccia instead (coming up soon).

This is linked to:
What's On the Menu Wednesday @ Dining With Debbie
Link your menu for today

Thursday Tip Day @ Around My Family Table
Link up a tip "related to cooking, food, kitchen prep, and even ways to keep the kids entertained while cooking"

Printer Friendly version

Tomato Butter Sauce
adapted from Emeril

1 1/2 cups chopped Roma tomatoes (about 5 small to medium)
1-2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup shrimp stock (don’t skip)
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch cayenne pepper
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut in cubes (I used 3 Tbsp)

Mash the tomatoes a small nonreactive saucepan over high heat for about 1 minute. Add the garlic, shrimp stock, salt, cayenne, and black pepper and bring to a boil, stirring or whisking. Continue cooking, stirring or whisking constantly, for about 1 minute.

Add the butter a few cubes at a time, stirring or whisking to incorporate.

Serve immediately or prepare up until adding the butter and store, refrigerated, in an airtight container. Reheat in a saucepan over low heat. When the sauce comes to a simmer, add the butter. Enough for about 4-5 medium fish fillets (with the reduced amount of butter).


* I don’t peel or seed tomatoes. Everything broke down enough here to make a nice sauce

* I served this over very simply baked fish fillets, seasoned w/ Tony's. The original recipe calls for serving it over crab stuffed shrimp


  1. I'll wish you a happy birthday anyway...'cause I think you do like it even though you won't admit it.

  2. Oh no! I'm a day late. I hope you had a fantastic birthday!! I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed this wonderful meal and then were able to go to your favorite Mexican restaurant too. And, look at you catching that huge fish! I haven't been fishing since I was a kid (which was *ahem* a long time ago now). I wouldn't even know what to do or how to clean it. It makes me proud that you know how to do all that. Question: When you go fishing are there alligators everywhere? Are you used to that? I'm afraid that would probably freak me out. (You're probably laughing right now)-LOL!

    Sounds like neither one of us cares for birthdays a whole lot. I agree with you. I like to have a good day, eat some good food, and spend time with my family and friends. But, I don't like to acknowledge that I'm getting older. I don't know why it bothers me, but it does. I won't "show my work" but it seems we're only two years and two days apart, which is pretty cool!! At least we're both creeping up on 40 together!!

    I love the idea of tomato butter sauce and you did a great job at reducing the butter. I think most of the flavor comes from the tomatoes anyways:)

  3. I'm a day late too!!!
    Happy Birthday to you tho!!!
    I've left 40 far behind....and ran smack into 50, then 51 YIKES!!!
    It's never bothered me tho, but I did decide to tell people I'm older than I am...that way, they'll say "SERIOUSLY? YOU LOOK GREAT!".
    I hope you had a great dinner last night with your family, and the fish looks great!
    I hope your whole week is happy!

  4. Thanks for linking up!

  5. Thanks for the comments, everyone.

    Debbie-I like your approach!

  6. Tomato butter sauce? That is going into my must try file. Sounds wonderful over fish.

  7. Kim-I forgot to answer your question. Yes, in some of the places we fish there are alligators. I've only seen a handful of really big ones. The majority of what I've come across are around 4 ft. I don't bother them so they don't bother me!

  8. Happy belated birthday!!!! Mine was on the 13th. I turned 36, I'm looking at 40 right behind ya!


Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your comments.