Déagol’s Baked Fish
Recipe by Astrid Winegar

Since we are discovering the Splendor of the Lands that inspired Middle-earth, I thought a recipe influenced by Scandinavian cooking would be appropriate. You might want to accompany your fish with green vegetables, such as cabbage or green beans; some pickled beets on the side would also be lovely.

This particular recipe showed up in my original cookbook as part of a “Pre-Ring Idyll,” whereby Sméagol and his cousin Déagol used to go fishing together often. Perhaps they brought home their catch of the day and their collective grandmother would make them some creamy comfort food.

Of course, Déagol was oblivious to his future fate, poor guy…

Déagol’s Baked Fish

I have used frozen cod, tilapia, and even salmon for this recipe and they all are fine. If you use frozen fillets, thaw according to package directions.

  • 4 boneless, skinless fish fillets (your choice, between 1½ and 2 pounds total)
  • ¼ teaspoon and ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 extra large egg yolk
  • 2 ounces Parmesan or Romano cheese, finely shredded

Preheat oven to 400°. Coat a 7″ by 11″ pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle the pan with ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Place fish in pan. Pour lemon juice all over fish. Sprinkle fish evenly with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cut 1 tablespoon butter into 4 pieces and place one on each fillet. Bake 15-25 minutes, until flaky in the center (test with a fork), yet still moist (cooking time will depend on the relative thickness of your fillets).

Meanwhile, melt remaining butter in a 1½-quart saucepan over moderately high heat. Whisk in the flour until well combined. Add the remaining pepper and the coriander. In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, whisk together the half-and-half and egg yolk. Add this to the butter mixture, whisking over moderate heat just until thicker. Cover and let stand.

Remove fish from oven and set broiler to high. Coat a broiler-proof 7″ by 11″ serving dish with cooking spray and place fish here; discard any cooking liquids. Whisk the cream sauce and spread this all over the fish, then sprinkle the cheese evenly over all. Broil about 5-7 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Cover and refrigerate leftovers. Serves 4.

Astrid Tuttle Winegar

Author, Cooking for Halflings & Monsters: 111 Comfy, Cozy Recipes for Fantasy-Loving Souls