Saturday, May 12, 2012


makes four servings

8 strips bacon (about 7 ounces total)
4 yellow perch, gutted, scaled and butterflied (about 8 ounces each), plus their roe sacs
Freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 lemon (4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon chopped chives

Lay two strips of bacon side by side, overlapping them slightly. Roll up one of the roe sacs in the bacon, doing your best to cover the roe completely. Repeat with the remaining three sacs. Place the rolled roe packets, seam side down, in a nonstick skillet or saute pan and sear them over medium heat on all sides for several minutes to brown the bacon, render some of the bacon's fat and just barely start cooking the roe. The roe should feel slightly firm on the outside but still very soft in the center. Transfer the packets to a plate. Keep the rendered bacon fat in the pan; there should be about 6 tablespoons.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush a little of the rendered bacon fat to coat the bottom of a glass or ceramic baking dish that is large enough to hold all of the fish in a single layer.

Lay the perch on a cutting board, butterflied open. Place a bacon-wrapped roe in the cavity of each fish just below the gill (where the roe was originally) and close up the fish. (It won't cover the entire roe packet.) To prevent the top flap of the fish from curling open, tie the fish closed with kitchen twine in two places, an inch to the left and to the right of the center.

Place all of the fish in the baking pan and drizzle them with the remaining rendered bacon fat. Bake for 20 minutes, until the flesh is firm, white and moist when you pierce it with the tip of a paring knife. The roe should be cooked to medium: slightly soft in the center. Use a wide spatula to transfer the fish to a warm platter. Remove and discard the twine. Stir the lemon juice, thyme and chives into the pan drippings and drizzle them over the fish and roe. Serve immediately.

For a nice individual presentation, butterfly a perch open on a dinner plate. Cut the roe into 1-inch medallions and line them up just below the fish.

bacon recipe courtesy of: David Hagedorn, The Washington Post, February 22, 2012