A long time ago, when we first moved to Maine for the summer, we would catch a boatload of striped bass during an early morning “boil,” in which so many fish were jumping so actively in the water, with terns diving to catch the bait fish, that it seemed as if the water was actually boiling. Then we would filet our catch, and our go-to recipe was baked fish with cream cheese and mayonnaise. Since then, the “boils” have disappeared, but our baked fish filet recipe has gotten a whole lot better as it evolved over time.
4 (4-to-6-ounce) mild white fish filets such as haddock striped bass, or cod
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the baking dish
1/3 cup mayonnaise (preferably Hellmann’s brand east of the Rockies or Best Foods brand in the west)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 shallot, finely diced
¾ cup unseasoned panko breadcrumbs, or lightly toasted fresh breadcrumbs
¼ cup chopped fresh herbs such as chives, thyme, or parsley
½ cup dry white wine
1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges
Preheat the oven to 400°F degrees with rack in the top position.
Put the butter in a glass measuring cup and melt it in the microwave. In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, cheese, and shallot. In another bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs and herbs.
Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Arrange the fish filets in the dish in a single layer. Spread the mayonnaise mixture evenly over each filet. Sprinkle evenly with the breadcrumb mixture and evenly spoon the melted butter over each filet. Pour the wine down the side of the baking dish, taking care not to disturb the breadcrumb topping.
Bake the fillets until one flakes easily when probed with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes. If the topping is not fully browned, turn on the broiler and finish browning the fish under it for a minute or two, watching carefully to avoid burning.
With a spatula, transfer the fish fillets to individual heated serving plates and garnish with lemon wedges.