In the Basque region, the dish is often served at table right out of its casserole; in fancier restaurants, a decorative arrangement of the ingredients is made on each plate
2 pounds hearty fillets, cut into 12 pieces
1/4 cup seasoned flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
5 large garlic cloves, minced
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup clam juice
12 asparagus tips
12 small clams (preferably Manila clams)
12 small mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1/2 cup frozen peas
3 hard-boiled eggs, cut into 4 round slices each
2 tablespoons arrowroot
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley for garnish
lemon slices for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Dredge fish fillets in seasoned flour. Place olive oil in large sauté pan over moderately high heat. Sauté fillets for 1 to 2 minutes, just until they start to turn color on the outside. Place fillets in a baking dish large enough to hold them comfortably in a single layer. Add onion and garlic to the sauté pan and cook, stirring, over moderately high heat for 2 minutes. Transfer the onion and garlic to the baking dish, distributing them evenly.
3. Add the white wine and clam juice to the sauté pan over high heat. Scrape up any brown bits clinging to the pan. Boil for 1 minute, add the asparagus, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the asparagus and the liquid to the baking dish.
4. Nestle the clams and mussels in the liquid in the baking dish. Cover dish and bake in oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the shellfish have opened. Remove clams and mussels and reserve, keeping them warm. Place peas and egg slices in baking dish, cover, and bake in oven for an additional 2 minutes, or until peas have cooked through.
5. Strain contents of baking dish through a sieve (do this gently, so as not to break up the fish). Place 1 1/2 cups of the liquid in a saucepan, and quickly bring to a boil. Mix the arrowroot in a cup with enough cold water to make a mixture that resembles heavy cream in texture. Whisk in arrowroot until a medium-thick sauce is formed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. Divide fish fillets, clams, mussels, asparagus, peas, and egg slices among 4 dinner plates, arranging decoratively if desired. Nap with sauce. Garnish with parsley and lemon. Serve immediately.
Hearty fillets are needed for this casserole-cooked dish, otherwise the fillets may fall apart. In the Basque region of Spain, where this dish originates, hake (merluza) is used; it's a long, gray-skinned fish, rather cod-like in appearance. It is the most widely used fish in Spain, but you may substitute cod, or other thick, meaty fillets. In the Basque region, the dish is often served at table right out of its casserole; in fancier restaurants, a decorative arrangement of the ingredients is made on each plate. We prefer the latter method, because the white fillets, green vegetables, yellow egg yolks, and black mussels look so strikingly Spanish together on a white plate. Serves 4