Mr. Henry was short on time and on ingredients. Ocean caught off St. Augustine, cleaned and frozen in skim milk right on the boat, mahi-mahi filets had not yet completely thawed. At 11:15 a.m. Mother Henry was ravenous, asking whether her son was ever going to fix that fish.
When lunch is late, Mother Henry is not at her best.
How do you hurry a mahi-mahi onto the lunch plate? The answer is salt.
Sea salt liberally applied helped the fish thaw. Scouring the fridge for ingredients, Mr. Henry found a bottle of capers, a lemon, and some dried parsley flakes – just sufficient to construct a sauce piccata.
Dredge the salted filet in flour (with black pepper) and sauté to a light brown in a mixture of butter and olive oil. Remove to a serving plate and deglaze your pan with lemon juice, white wine, or both. (Add more butter if you want more sauce.) Add capers and chopped parsley (fresh is preferable), combine briefly and pour over the filets.
From start to finish the whole thing won’t take more than five minutes, so don’t begin until your guests are ready to eat.
The recipe works equally well with filet of veal or breast of chicken. To assure the meat is evenly thin, pound it flat beforehand between plastic wrap.
Capers are a curiosity – immature flower buds cured in brine or vinegar. The best ones are Italian cured only in rock salt. Before using these you should them soak in cold water for a few minutes.
Mr. Henry’s friend Famous Howard lives exclusively on take-out. In his refrigerator there are precious few items, but always a bottle of capers. Howard finds the addition of capers adds immeasurably to the flavor of almost any sandwich.
As a history buff Howard might be excited to learn that capers are mentioned in The Epic of Gilgamesh, a Sumerian story from the third millennium B.C.