Help me get started cooking fish!
- sweet ginger Jan 13, 2007 10:07 PM
I know that fish is a great source of lean protein, but I literally married a meat n' potatoes/double cheeseburger kind of guy. I have gradually broadened his palate, and now with a little one, I want us to be eating a broader range of healthy foods. As my culinary history (as far as fish is concerned) is limited to throwing salmon on the grill, where should I start? What are some mild tasting, easy to prepare fish to look for, that are commonly found in the local supermarket (or Trader Joe's). And any recipes you love?
You're best off starting with a mild, nicely textured fish like tilapia, which is difficult to ruin and which has no fishiness at all.
It's really good simply pan-fried (coated with a bit of flour, salt and pepper beforehand). I like to cook it this way and place it on top of a nice salad with a simple vinaigrette, or even in a large crusty roll with some homemade sauce, usually mayo-based, tomatoes and lettuce.
Or, take the tilapia and top it with some sliced tomatoes, olives, onions, capers (actually, anything in your pantry/fridge), a bit of white wine or broth, and bake it in a 400F oven for about 15 minutes.
I've done this with tilapia, little flatfish (like Rex sole), even boneless fillets: Preheat the oven to 400. Salt and pepper the fish, dredge in flour and shake off the excess, then put into a very hot ovenproof skillet with butter or oil. Cook four minutes on one side, then turn'em over. Spread about a soup spoon of good fresh salsa, maybe with some capers added, on the tops, and put the pan in the oven for another five minutes. Serve with rice and a salad.
maybe start with chowders and stews. the main mistake people make when cooking fish is overcooking it -- in a big pot of soup that's much harder to do. in this case, it also doesn't matter so much if you use frozen fish (like from trader joe's.)
haddock, pollock, halibut, hake, cod, flounder and trout are all very mild. most shrimp is sold frozen and also quite mild.
one of the easiest, least expensive, and most common-in-supermarket fish is tilapia. it's a pretty firm white fish and adapts to a lot of different cooking treatments and is somewhat forgiving. you can bread it (dip in flour, then beaten egg, then bread crumbs or panko) and fry it in olive oil over high heat (a couple of minutes per side, wait until the bread crumbs brown). or you can try this recipe, which is a staple for me and my bf:
baking fish in a parchment package, as in the recipe above, is a pretty easy and universal way to cook a lot of white fish. you just enclose the fish in a parchment package and put herbs or other flavorings on top...i just did fish packages with orange segments, sliced fennel, sliced red onion, and lots of parsley and it was really yummy.
if you want to add some flavor to salmon, you can broil it in the oven with a miso-soy glaze (whisk together some miso paste and soy with a little ginger) or with a maple mustard glaze (half dijon mustard, half maple syrup or honey, with a little garlic and pepper). there are tons of different ways to jazz up salmon when you roast/broil it in the oven (which is way easier than grilling it since it won't stick!)
the easiest, easiest fish to cook is shellfish, though it's not necessarily as healthy as fish fish. get some mussels, saute a chopped shallot in butter in a big pot, add a cup of white wine and boil until the alcohol goes, then add the mussels, cover, and steam for 5 minutes or so. uncover, sprinkle in some chopped parsley, and ladle the mussels (with the now incredible broth you've made) into bowls. serve with lots of bread to soak up the sauce.
or get some deveined fresh shrimp, saute some garlic in olive oil, add the shrimp, which cook in about two minutes, and toss with fresh linguine and parsley
I'm very fond of using a lemon bay cream sauce to go over baked whole salmon (which can be baked on the grill in foil or in the oven in a dish).
For the sauce, make a roux with butter, flour and a touch of onion salt, add a can of canned milk and a bay leaf and simmer. Just before finishing, add fresh lemon juice (we have meyers) and stir like crazy. The lemon juice curdles the canned milk and thickens the sauce, making a good heavy lemon sauce perfumed with bay that will hold up to salmon. Serve that with potatoes.
I am in the same situation as Ginger. But, I have progessed a little more, having tried a few fish experiements. I need some basic, healthy recipes too. I also decided to not fry the fish or add other fats, which defeats the purpose of us eating the fish in the first place. We hate fishy fish. The fish I have found I like and that I bake or broil is sea bass (which is thick like a steak) and Orange Roughy.