All the leftovers are not at the same level. There are levels. At the top you have your pasta sauces, your stews, your chili, the stuff that makes it it’s better after a night in the fridge than it does directly from the stove. Then you have your intermediate level, which is most of the leftovers: mashed potatoes, steak, roasted vegetables, etc. These things taste great when reheated, but may require a bit of TLC to really shine. Then you have fried things (like french fries), which are not very good if they are not reheated. in the air fryer. And finally, you have fish.
It may be unfair. Leftover fish can be nice, but there’s almost a level of PSYOP hatred towards the concept, thanks to so many colleagues insisting on bringing it to work and reheating it in the common microwave. This direct heat not only dries up leftover fish fillets, but can oxidize oils, creating the dreaded fishy smell permeating that is the root of most office conflict. There are, however, other actions you can take if you end up with leftover fish. (No matter how you choose to reuse it, be sure to do it in a day or two.)
Keep it cool
This is the easiest, safest and least demanding option. Mix it with some heavily seasoned mayonnaise and lemon juice and eat it on a sandwich, or crumble the fish and serve it on a salad, a bowl of cereal, or a cereal salad (which is just a bowl of cereal with additional vegetables, I think). Drizzle with a punchy vinaigrette. Eat it.
If you want to “transform” or “reinvent” your leftover fish, you can make small rillettes (fancy spread with added fat). Most rillettes are made by confit the meat in its own fat, but fish lard is not a real product, so sour cream or crème fraîche is used to give it a barely spreadable texture. I shared this recipe for the salmon spread before, but just to recap, you will need:
- 5 ounces of leftover fish (the salmon is especially delicious)
- 1/2 large shallot, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of vermouth
- 2 tablespoons of crème fraîche, sour cream or labneh
- 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
- The juice of 1/4 of a small lemon
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
Sauté the shallot in olive oil over medium heat until translucent. Add the vermouth to the pan and reduce for about half a minute. Leave the shallots enriched with vermouth to cool, then add them to the salmon, along with the rest of the ingredients. Gently stir everything to incorporate it, then let cool for an hour in the refrigerator before serving on your best water-based crackers, in small cups of endive, or in a very good tea sandwich. (Oh, and if you want to take it in a smoky direction, just add a drop or two of our friend liquid smoke. It’s cheating, but it’s the right kind of cheating.)
Heat it up indirectly
Maybe you’re not in the mood for a cold lunch (or dinner). It is very good. You can reheat fish, you just need to do it carefully, gently and indirectly.
As I mentioned earlier, cooking already cooked fish in the microwave or placing it in a hot pan can dry it out and oxidize fat, creating a terrible, ultra-fishy aroma.
Fortunately, there are several ways around this problem. First of all, you’re going to want to decide How? ‘Or’ What you want to eat the fish. I love rice bowls right now, but pasta is another great option, as is a mixed veg. Crumble the fish into small pieces – the smaller they are, the faster and more evenly they will heat. Place the fish in a bowl and set it aside.
Cook your pasta (and sauce), your rice, or your vegetables. You can also make a simple pan sauce by reducing the white wine with a little brown garlic butter. You just need something hot to mix with the fish. Once your rice, pasta, vegetables, and / or sauce are piping hot, transfer the hot foods to the bowl with the fish and toss everything together. The residual heat of the pasta / rice / vegetables / sauce will gently heat the fish, without any smell of oxidized oil.