4 medium zucchini (1 1/2 pounds), sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick Salt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 1 teaspoon chopped thyme Freshly ground pepper 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil Four 6-ounce skinless farmed ossetra sturgeon or wild Pacific halibut fillets 3 tablespoons homemade red wine vinegar 3/4 cup water 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced 3 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 375°. On a large rimmed baking sheet, sprinkle the zucchini slices with salt. Arrange them in an even layer and let stand for 1 hour. In a small bowl, blend the butter with the thyme and season with salt and pepper.
Rinse the zucchini slices and pat dry; wipe off the baking sheet. Return the zucchini to the baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Spread the slices in an even layer and bake until golden brown on the bottom, about 30 minutes. Transfer the zucchini to a platter.
Sprinkle the sturgeon with 1 tablespoon of the vinegar and refrigerate for 10 minutes. In a large, heavy skillet, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of vinegar with the water, bouquet garni, and shallot and bring to a boil. Season the poaching liquid lightly with salt and pepper and add the sturgeon fillets. Cover tightly and simmer over low heat, turning once, until the fish is barely cooked through about 8 minutes. Transfer the sturgeon to a large plate. Strain the poaching liquid into a bowl.
Wipe out the skillet and set it over high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add the sturgeon fillets, boned side down, and cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Turn and cook for 1 minute longer. Set the sturgeon on the zucchini and cover with foil to keep warm.
If you are planning to make your own red wine vinegar, here are some crocks Paula Wolfert likes: The one-gallon crocks from claycoyote.com and pfaltzgraff.com, and the 5-quart from Emile Henry, available at cooking.com.
Smoked Sturgeon Spread with Grilled Bread
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 cup thinly sliced shallots (from 2 large shallots) 6 garlic cloves, crushed 1 pound smoked sturgeon, broken into large chunks 4 thyme sprigs 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper 3/4 cup crème fraîche 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest Kosher salt Pepper
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 300°. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened about 5 minutes. Fold in the sturgeon, thyme, maple syrup, and crushed red pepper and bake until the fish is heated through about 10 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs.
Scrape the contents of the skillet into a food processor and let cool completely. Pulse until very coarsely chopped. Scrape the mixture into a bowl, fold in the crème fraîche and lemon zest, and season with salt and black pepper. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes. Serve the smoked sturgeon spread with grilled bread, watercress, and pickled onions.