Good Friday is traditionally a fast day, and this year we are having fish. I'm not sure if a beautiful fish baked with potatoes, white wine, and herbs really counts as penitential food -- any more than the organic, whole-wheat matzoh we had Tuesday night really counts as the bread of affliction -- but it sure tastes good. This is how you cook it:
Get a cleaned fish. Bass, flounder, and trout all work quite well, though anything that looks good and is about the right size would be fine. I usually get a fish that's a little over a pound for the two adults and two small children in my house, though we once took on a beautiful three-pound flounder and left no scrap. Cut up and parboil some potatoes in salted water. Season the fish's cavity and insert the flavoring of your choice: fresh rosemary, thyme, and lemon slices have all served us well in the past.
Arrange the drained, parboiled potatoes around the fish in a lightly oiled roasting pan and drizzle a little extra olive oil over the lot. Splash a little white wine in the pan and bake in a medium-hot oven until done. I start checking after about 15 minutes, though it usually needs more like 30. Big, thick fish can apparently take an hour; I'm partial to the small ones myself so have never tried it.
When the fish is done, prepare it for serving by lifting and removing the skin on the top side of the fish and removing the filets to plates. Run a knife under the vertebrae and lift out the spinal column (it is best to banish the squeamish from the kitchen around now), then remove the bottom filets. Don't forget the tasty, winy pan juices, which will be your sauce!
I like to serve this with bitter greens. This year we're having an ecclesiastically appropriate passion fruit cream for dessert: the pulp of two passion fruit whisked lightly into about a half cup of heavy cream, with a scant teaspoon of vanilla sugar thrown in to balance it.