Most of the time, I can make a snap judgement as to how awful something will be just by reading the recipe. Take, for instance, the Oyster Soup mentioned in the previous post. I don’t actually have to taste it to know it will be repulsive. I can mock a lot of things without having to hand over cash for the privilege. Sometimes though, the line between good and evil is not so easily drawn. So it was with the Busy Woman’s Cookbook recipe for Fish Fingers in Sauce Verte.
I have a soft spot for fish fingers. They were a staple of my childhood and even now, particularly if I come home a bit boozy, fish fingers are a guilty pleasure of mine. So, I wasn’t entirely averse to giving this recipe a try.
I had a dilemma with how exactly to eat this though. The recipe is not particularly helpful. Serve sauce with fish fingers it says. How? I’d made two fish fingers so I tried it two ways.
Of the two, the dip was preferable as the slather made the crispy crumb coating on the fish fingers go soggy. In all honesty though, selecting one of these as being better than the other was a little bit like choosing between being punched or kicked in the face. Given the choice, you may prefer one over the other but neither would always be a better option.
As mentioned, I was unsure about how the Fish Finger dish might turn out. And the idea of the challenge was born – put a borderline recipe up against one with similar ingredients that sounds ok. Compare the two.
A search of my cookbooks lead me to a different fish with spinach sauce recipe – Fish with Spinach Hollandaise – from another AWW cookbook – The Best Seafood Recipes.
Incidentally, the Fish Finger with Sauce Verte recipe did not make it into The Best Seafood Recipes. Quelle surprise. Also, I used salmon in my version of the Fish with Spinach Hollandaise sauce recipe, because I had some in my freezer.
I compared the two recipes on 5 parameters: Taste, Ease of Cooking, Overall Look, Cost and Nutrition.
The retro food did not compare well. The fault was in the Sauce Verte. The next sentence is something I have never actually uttered before. Here goes.
It would have been better without the wine.
Wow. I’m still here. I thought for sure a bolt from the blue would have struck me down for so flagrantly defying my prevailing ethos. The combination of wine and lemon made the sauce too sour, a little bit bitter and combined with the spinach made my teeth go a little furry. It was not pleasant. The wine would have been much better just being drunk, preferably in copious amounts prior to eating the Fish Fingers in Sauce Verte.
The other surprise was that the sugar in the Fish with Spinach Hollandaise really worked! It somehow brightened the sauce up and I think also worked well with the toasted macadamias. The nuts were great and added some crunchy texture into the modern dish.
Fish with Spinach Hollandaise won this round easily!
Ease of Cooking
One of the problems with cooking fish is that it can be hard to get it just right – ie not overcooked. For that reason alone, the Fish Finger dish won this challenge.
They were both very quick, with the sauce being able to made whilst the fish was cooking. One note though – the Fish Finger with Sauce Verte recipe states to cook the fish fingers for 20 minutes. I cooked mine for under ten and they were fine.
Let’s start with the sauce. Only one of these can really be called a sauce Verte. The other is more of a Sauce Not So Verte.
Aesthetically, the Fish with Spinach Hollandaise was far more pleasing to my eye. I loved the combination of the bright green sauce and the pink salmon. I thought this was a really pretty looking dish and it won this round hands down.
Fish Fingers and frozen spinach are cheap. Salmon and macadamias are not. Lets move on.
I’m not a nutritionist but I’m probably not wrong in suggesting that fresh salmon and spinach are better for you than frozen spinach and fish fingers. I’d also hazard a guess that macadamias are more healthy than whatever the hell they crumb fish fingers with. Even with the butter and sugar I think the modern version wins out.
The Busy Woman’s Fish Finger recipe did not fare as badly as I thought it would. Personally if I had to rank the parameters, I would probably place taste and nutritional value towards the top of the list but I also recognise that sometimes cheap and cheerful is exactly what you need. Even under these circumstances I would not make the Sauce Verte again. It was not good. The remainder of the box of fish fingers is in my freezer and when the time is right will be eaten with this busy woman’s preferred combination of mayonnaise and tabasco!