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Jul 14, 2006 09:24 PM

Something Fishy...

We're trying to make another tweak to how we eat (YEA!!!) however, my husband lost his job on Monday (Boo!!) so we have to do it on the cheap for now. The main thing we are adding is lot's of fish. I just put in our grocery order for several kinds:

Mahi Mahi
Orange Roughy
Lemon Sole

Here's the big problem: I am HORRIBLE at cooking fish. I always overcook it or it ends up fried and not healthy at all. Please please please help me - it's a real gap in my ability in the kitchen. Any kind of recipe, I'll take it. All your favs! Help me out of my shame!!!

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  1. grill or bake your salmon. I like soy sauce and dijon on mine, and it turns out perfect every time.

    pan-fried sole is great. dredge the fish in seasoned flour, use a nonstick pan, butter and a bit of oil, and finish it with a tablespoon of capers and the juice of half a lemon. YUM! Just make sure the fish is cooked to golden. You don't want raw flour flavor.

    1. I'm sorry about your husband. You'll get a lot of good recipes from other people, but I'll you a general piece of advice: a good rule of thumb is to cook fish for about 10 minutes per inch of thickness at the thickest part of the fish. So a filet that is 1/2 inch, figure 5 minutes of cooking time. Obviously this is a generalization, and the right amount of cooking time depends on the air temperature, the cooking medium, the heat in the pan/grill/oven, etc. But use this as a starting point in figuring out how much time to allow.

      This rule of thumb was developed by the Canadian Dept of Fisheries (if I remember correctly). They found that this rule of thumb was pretty good for most applications.

      1. tilapia is another inexpensive good fish.

        if you type in any fish name at the top & hit search, you will see many previous threads on various cooking methods & recipes.

        my easiest tilapia recipe...

        1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
        1⁄4 cup brown mustard
        1 tsp melted butter, a bit more for the dish
        1⁄4 cup chopped pecans
        Lightly butter dish (don’t use spray)
        Combine mayo, mustard, butter
        Pat fish dry, spread mixture on fish. Coat with pecans, pressing down slightly
        Bake 350 about 15 minutes

        1. Take a fairly large piece of aluminum foil. Add lemon slices, dill, extra v, garlic, s & p. Seal into a pouch and bake at 350 for 15 - 30 minutes depending on how thick your fish. Works best with thin fillets.


          4 Replies
          1. re: Davwud

            Parchment paper works really well also. I do this with tilapia and I add veggies that are in season...last night I made it with zucchini cut into matchsticks. I put the veggies on the bottom (put a good handful that would constitute your vegetable serving) then the fish and then I top with either lemon or some white wine salt pepper, herbs, a touch of olive oil. I sometimes like to use sundried tomatoes on top. Really cooking fish this way is smell, easy clean-up and your fish is always moist.

            1. re: iLoveFood

              The parchment makes it elegant. It does. When you cut it open at the table and the fragrant steam escapes, good stuff. You can put salsa on top, too. This is a really flexible preparation.
              This may not be the time of year for this, but fish soup is good. You can make whatever kind of soup you would make with sautéed aromatics, fresh vegetables, a broth of whatever, and add the fish at the last minute so it doesn't overcook.

              Losing your job is no fun. Good luck.

              1. re: yayadave

                I know that you're on a budget so it may not be the most cost effective thing. But of you do the pouch principle, mangoes and fresh rosemary are an incredible match with salmon.


            2. re: Davwud

              I also recommend this method. You can vary the seasonings depending on your tastes and the type of fish--salmon is great with just lemon and salt and pepper. And if it's a little fatty, it's almost impossible to overcook this way.

              Double over the foil so you have an extra-strong pouch. I also put a baking tray under it in the oven just in case of leakage.

            3. Krissywats, ouch. Am sorry for the situation, but hope your spirit turns lemons into lemonade. Years ago, when I was dead, stony broke, I too found interesting and nutritious ways to streeeeetch my food dollars. A quick visit to the public library researching peasant food around the world was my first stop and a very enlightening one, I must say.

              Combining a grain (wheat, rice etc) with a legume (beans) provides a complete protein, just the same as an animal product. Obviously the more nutritious the grain (whole wheat VS bleached white) and legume, the better the final outcome.

              Bean burritos from Mexico, Creole red beans & rice, hummus on pita bread, corn & black bean salad or salsa, even a PB&J are examples of complete protein from inexpensive sources.

              Of course it is a great idea to add fish to your diet as well. I don't find that it is a stunning dollar bargain though. Granted, every bit is usuable in a filet, but at 10.99 pp for salmon at my local market, this is still eleven dollars for a pound of fish.

              Can you shop at Asian markets? I've found the prices much lower there as well as offering interesting and different kinds of really fresh fish. I bought a whole salmon frame (head, tail & skeleton) for 50 cents and made salmon soup and salmon cakes with the bits I scraped off the bones. Today, I'd probably combine some salmon bits with peas and make a pasta sauce as well.

              To answer your question about cooking fish in general, the most important thing to do is look at the fish. Watch it. Know what it looks like raw and watch the color change as it cooks. It will become opaque and feel firmer to the touch. The 10 min per inch is a good rule of thumb but pay attention to the fish itself. 10 minutes may be too much. Undercook it because you can always add extra time but you cannot uncook it. Our house salmon basic recipe is: brown two filets (about 1.5 inches wide) in a small amount of butter. When the fish is becoming firm - lift it and test - add some liquid to the pan and cover, turning heat to lowest setting. After five minutes, check for doneness. The first few times you may need to cut into the fish to see the color, but pretty soon, you'll be able to tell by feel. This can be sauces or left plain.

              The lemon sole can be prepared very simply a la meuniere and its my favorite way to showcase the flavor. While heating a pan large enough to hold the filets in a single layer, dip the filets in a bit of flour - seasoned or unseasoned. Add a lump of butter to the pan. When the butter has just begun to smell nutty, add filets. Count to twenty and check the underside of one. If it is browned, turn the filets and cook for an additional 30 or 40 seconds.
              You can also roll and stuff these to bake in the oven.

              Mahi-Mahi is delicious grilled, if you have access to a grill or it can be oven roasted. I paint it with a simple olive oil-citrus marinade and cook it hot & fast. Again, watch for the color change from translucent white to milk white. We ate Mahi-Mahi (Dorado) roasted on a stick over an open fire on a Mexican beach and it was heaven.

              If you have off-topic questions, please feel free to e-mail me - Good Luck!

              PS - I should mention that Marian Morash has a "Victory Garden Fish and Vegetable Cookbook" that may help with ideas and technique. It might be at the library or on e-bay for next to nothing.