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What is your preparation method for making a great Fish meal.

Just to say ahead of time, canned foods don't count, alright...lol? Anyways, do you fry it or bake it? Do you cover it with any sauce or spices? Do you prepare it as a filet, steak or whole? What's the method to your madness here folks? Also share your description(s) of anything else you might add to this meal & have fun with it.

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  1. First, of course, you must acquire a *great* fish...which is rare. When I do, I season with sea salt, freshly ground pepper and EVOO, fill the cavity with lemon slices and one fresh herb, perhaps thyme. Then I roast *indirect* with hardwood charcoal in my Hasty-Bake. Degree of doneness depends on the fish---I admire Le Bernardin, but don't go quite that rare. Remember that you don't have to cook fish until it is tender, because it is already tender.

    1. 1. Get the best fish possible.
      2. Don't be an ass and screw it up.

      Preparation depends on the fish and what I'm in the mood for, but I'll always set aside the time to ensure that things don't muck up.

      15 Replies
      1. re: wattacetti

        HAW! You said it much more compactly than I did.

        1. re: wattacetti

          I always prefer fresh Fish. There are only 2 exceptions that I'm quite satisfied with purchasing & those 2 are previously fried/breaded Fish as well as Salmon with the skin on. I always prefer the skin on my Salmon as I'd expect most others do too. Maybe if you're out in the Woods & don't have a scaler with you or something, I guess that you could/should go without the skin. Outside of that, it always stays on!

          1. re: ShowUsYourRack

            "previously fried/breaded Fish "

            Is that like fish sticks?

            1. re: c oliver

              I admit to loving fish sticks. Or stix

                1. re: C. Hamster

                  we do too -- I'm absolutely OCD about making sure my fresh fish is fresh, even asking the guy behind the counter to pass it over so I can give it the sniff test..

                  But we buy fish sticks and bake them because we enjoy them for weekend lunches.

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    The one frozen breaded fish I buy, and try to always have in stock, is beer battered cod fingers. I buy a certain brand that not's available everywhere, maybe there are others too; I will be the first to admit I couldn't make them better from scratch. Great on fish tacos.

                    Otherwise, whatever fish it is, I usually fry my husband's portion and bake mine after a quick marinade; unless it's tuna or scallops which I almost always sear.

                    1. re: coll

                      we all have our dirty little secrets! :)

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        True! If not for these, I'd probably never make fish tacos at home.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      Your favorite cod. 1 and 1/2 cup flour sifted into beer and Cajun seasonings, batter in flour w/ salt. Cut the fillets as desired.

                2. re: ShowUsYourRack

                  I don't understand your two exceptions to fresh fish.

                  The first is previously fried/breaded, which I guess are fishstix and the like.

                  The second is salmon with the skin on? I've worked on a lot of salmon and when they come out of the water, the skin's on. Not sure why this is an exception to "fresh fish".

                  Getting the best fish possible also includes dried, canned and frozen sources for whatever application I happen to be working on.

                  1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                    having spent many years working in restaurants most people actually don't like the skin. however, i certainly do.

                    there is no *ONE* way i do fish, however, i will not waste money on farmed fish. the only exception being mussels and oysters. i do live in new england so have access to excellent seafood.

                3. Depends wildly on the type of fish. For good, flavourful fish I'll go with simple and let the fish taste shine. Other fish can get more complicated preparations. Unless it's a large fish (salmon, tuna, etc), I'll almost always cook it whole, rather than fillets. I'm lucky to be in an area that has great, affordable seafood, although the fish I have access to tend to be very different than North American varieties.

                  Saury or ayu I'll salt grill whole, and serve with grated daikon and a wedge of lemon. Saury works well pickled, too.

                  Something like trout or butterfish I'll pan fry in butter, and serve with lemon, or herbed butter.

                  Tilapia I'll do whole, covered/filled with a mixture of diced green pepper and onion, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and red pepper flakes, and baked.

                  Salmon - pan fried with a bit of butter or lemon. If someone happens to give me a smallish freshly caught salmon, barbecued whole with a lemon bread stuffing and profound gratitude, and served with foil roasted new potatoes and a garden salad.

                  Milk fish - whole and stuffed, or in soups or stews, or fillets baked with a soy glaze. The firmness of the flesh stands well to stewing. I'll use this in a Thai/southern Indian style curry as well.

                  Fillets or steaks of firm white fish or tuna - baked in foil with some vegetables and herbs.

                  Small fish like smelts - dredged in flour and pan fried in butter.

                  White fish like cod I'll sometimes use for a milk based fish chowder. Onion, celery, carrot potato, fish stock, thyme parsely and bay leaf, salt and pepper, milk, and topped with grated cheddar.

                  Sometimes I'll do seafood stews/soups - shrimp, shellfish, squid, fish, with a tomato and white wine based broth.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                    Oh, and sometimes I'll do steamed whole fish Chinese style, with ginger and green onion.

                    Sushi grade fish gets eaten as sashimi or ceviche, naturally.

                  2. My favorite preparation for pan fish is to dredge in flour, then egg, then fresh bread crumbs. Let dry on a rack for a half hour. Fry in equal parts vegetable oil and butter.
                    Serve with tartar sauce, skinny French fries, vinegar dressed cole slaw and rye bread.
                    It's not a wild and crazy recipe, but if you can ever get your hands on some Lake Michigan yellow perch,there's no reason to serve it any other way.

                    1. I recently had a great piece of halibut. I made portions and cooked en papilotte ontop of fresh wild mushrooms that were smeared with a bit of miso paste and a sprig of thyme and drizzle of white wine ontop. Cooked until just barely opaque.
                      The wonderful mushroomy sauce from the packets became the broth at the bottom of a shallow bowl- served with fresh crusty sourdough to sop up the broth

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Ttrockwood

                        Halibut sounds pretty good. I'd sure like some of that right now.

                      2. Speckled trout I catch is fried skin on, dipped in egg and a bit of milk, fried in 80/20 ish corn meal flour. There is no finer fried fish dish on the planet, a picky friend told me this and I concur. I season the dip with creole seasoning and the mix w/salt and pepper. This is also how I do red snapper. Freshly caught redfish I fry the same way skin off. Now a delicious redfish dish is on the half shell leaving the skin and scales on, charcoaling dipped in lemon butter, turning when 1/2 done. Failing fresh fish, I buy fresh caught frozen Alaskan cod, fried in a mix of a 12 oz. beer and 1 1/2 cups flour sifted in with creole seasoning. A delicious fish for fish and chips and really good leftover in the toaster oven. Did I mention I like fresh fried fish.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: James Cristinian

                          Oh, well I like the skin on my Snapper too. Perhaps not as essential as on some Salmon, but the skin still makes it all the better for me.

                        2. 1. Get expense account clearance

                          2. Go to Le Bernardin.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            We are fortunate to get really fresh local fish year round here on the BC coast.
                            Having cooked fresh fish in probably every conceivable way I do have just a couple of favorites: Number one is to very slowly poach whole fillets/skin on in coconut oil just to cover/lid off. Lid off means I can watch the fillet slowly change colour. I have the stove top set for 200F. I accomplished this using the pan I always poach the fish in, adding the coconut oil and very slowly increasing the heat under the pan to where it stays at 200 F. I made a very small mark with an indelible marker at exactly where the
                            knob is always turned to.
                            I agree speckled trout is an excellent fish.
                            The other way I cook fish is cutting the fillets into large pieces, again skin on to help maintain the shape, which will fit into the steamer. Then topping the fish with whatever. Both ways IMO insures I'm getting the actual flavor of the fish....not fish 'camoed' to hide the fish flavor. If you have to do that the fish isn't fresh enough to eat.

                            1. re: Puffin3

                              That's interesting, I've never thought about slow poaching fish in coconut oil, I'll have to try that.

                              1. re: thistle5

                                Coconut sounds good for a lot of things.

                          2. in general, I give filets and steaks a dusting of salt and pepper, and give them a quick pan-fry in a little butter and vegetable oil (for the higher smoke point).

                            Sturdier filets are grilled, seasoned with just salt and pepper and a quick glaze of vegetable oil to keep it from sticking.

                            With fish, simple is better.

                            (If I'm going uptown for company, I'll take a square of puff pastry, add a bed of lightly-sauteed spinach, then a filet of salmon, topped with a spoonful of Bearnaise, then sealed and baked til golden)

                            11 Replies
                              1. re: c oliver

                                LOL -- it's really simple, but impressive, so it's a good thing!

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  Try using asparagus instead of spinach and sauteed onions instead of bearnaise. You can shape the pastry like a fish and carve scales/

                                  1. re: law_doc89

                                    I've subbed asparagus, but everyone seems to prefer spinach.

                                    I wouldn't ever put fish on a bed of onion, even sauteed. Leeks, maybe.

                                      1. re: linguafood

                                        shallots/echalots, perhaps...but still not an entire bed of them....perhaps a thin layer over the spinach.

                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                          Nope, not with my recipe. Neither spinach nor shallots have any business beneath my black bean sauce salmon.

                                          1. re: linguafood

                                            well of course not with black bean sauce...but that wasn't mentioned anywhere in this side thread.

                                            (you'd put black bean sauce and scallions in puff pastry?)

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              A classic case of miscommunication -- totally missed the pastry part. Never mind.

                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                I thought so -- so thought I'd give you the benefit of the doubt.


                                    1. re: law_doc89

                                      Asparagus AND Spinach sounds quite good to me.

                              2. Depends on what fish and what I'm trying to do with it.

                                Sea bass/bream/mackerel/herring/sole - probably pan fried

                                Cod/pollock/coley/etc - baked or fried

                                Smoked haddock - poached - it's probably going in fish pie or something

                                Monkfish - roasted

                                Tuna/salmon - under the grill

                                Rarely cooked in a sauce, although we will have a sauce from time to time.

                                Of absolute importance is that, if it's being served with skin on, then the skin must be crisp. If can't get it crisp, then it comes off before being plated.

                                1. Pan seared.
                                  Love my salmon covered in spices (such as an "everything blend" containing sesame, poppy, salt, onion and garlic) to a beautiful mahogany color.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: whitewater

                                    Well, that "color" part sure makes it sound nice to me.

                                  2. 1-catch your own-Salmon, Halibut, Lingcod, Albacore you name it we have it all here.

                                    2-marinate briefly in Thai sweet chile sauce.

                                    3-broil to perfection.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Sam Salmon

                                      I'm not that much into that sauce, but the Halibut & Salmon sure do sound good.

                                      1. Nuked/steamed in the MW. Works perfectly for thick salmon steaks briefly marinated in black bean sauce.

                                        Place filets on a bed of scallions. Nuke for 3 min. or till desired doneness. Splash with a tbs of smoking hot oil, then sauce with a mix of sriracha, soy sauce, oyster sauce & rice vinegar. Top with chopped scallions and/or cilantro. Inhale.

                                        9 Replies
                                        1. re: linguafood

                                          This reminds me I have to buy some Black Bean sauce it's been far too long.

                                          1. re: Sam Salmon

                                            I'm not much into Beans. It sounds like more of a Taco thing anyways.

                                            1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                                              Scallions, sriracha, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and rice vinegar sounds like a taco thing? Or black bean sauce sounds like a taco thing?

                                              Either way, you're about a hemisphere off base.

                                              1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                                                You clearly have no idea what black bean sauce is.

                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                  linguafood, a Houston Vietnamese restaurant sells blue crabs in various sauces. The staff insists we want black pepper sauce. We demand black bean sauce. Absolutely Fabulous. Pun intended.

                                                  1. re: James Cristinian

                                                    Having not had blue crabs in black pepper sauce - or, for that matter, in black bean sauce - I'd be more than happy to eat either!

                                                2. re: ShowUsYourRack

                                                  oy vey! do you even know what you're talking about?

                                              2. re: linguafood

                                                Hm, I will have to try this. Love black bean sauce as well as the other ingredients. I've never actually tried tried fish in the microwave but it definitely sounds easy.

                                              3. I keep fish prep very simple. I like to fillet and portion the fish, dry it very well and season and dust the fish with either Wondra or rice flour before pan fry/saute. Cooked 2/3 of the way on one side then flip and finish. The seasoning is often just salt and pepper but could include other spices

                                                Can be served along side any number of things.
                                                Sometimes with a sauce but many times just straight up.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                                  You've gotten lots of good answers. Here's a useful tip: if you grill whole fish with the skin on, or even fillets with the skin on, (and my favorite method of cooking fish is on the grill) rub a bit of mayonnaise on both sides of the fish. It will keep it from sticking, you won't taste it, and it won't interfere with whatever else you want to put on the fish. (No, other oil doesn't work as well - olive oil is for flavoring and won't keep your fish from sticking to a hot grill).

                                                  1. re: teezeetoo

                                                    Done the mayo thing with tuna to get a nice crust fast and keep the insides rare and can see where it's good for grilling.

                                                2. My favorite way to prepare fish is the way my frenchman's aunt taught me: get a whole fish (bass...rainbow trout..whatever you like)
                                                  If you have a fish poacher. Place it on the kitchen counter. If you do not have a poacher, use an oblong dish with a cover.
                                                  OK. Get some carrots, fennel, onion, dill, thyme...herbs of your choice drop them into boiling water for a few minutes. Season the fish and place in the poacher. Pour the boiling water with the veg and herbs over the fish. Cover. Wait 40-45
                                                  minutes. Moist,flake, delicious fish will be greeting you!

                                                  1. So, how about fried fish? Just got a deep fryer (in the past, I've pan fried, w/ Wondra & Old Bay)-I'm thinking about a trial, w/ barramundi (inexpensive, neutral filets) breaded w/ cornstarch, Wondra, & Zatarains Fish-Fri (an impulse purchase at Costco, it'll take me 20 years to use up this much cornmeal breaking)-separately, of course. I love fried fish, but will have to eat it in small portions, w/ lots of slaw.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: thistle5

                                                      I'm not so much into Zatarain's. I've even used Zatarain's on/in my Octopus meals & was not as satisfied with the meal as I was with most, if not all of the other ways I've ever cooked an Octopus dish. Damn, I'm getting hungry for some Octopus &/or Squid right now though…lol.

                                                      1. re: thistle5

                                                        slightly ot, but about that cornmeal baking mix... store it in the freezer or it will eventually go off thus to waste. i wouldn't store it at room temp longer than 6 months, a year at the tippy-top.

                                                      2. For oily fish like salmon and trout, I like to just throw a fillet into my stovetop smoker, seasoned simply. Goes with a wedge of lemon and some kind of vegetable dish.

                                                        For white fish, sometimes I dredge and fry them, and top with a brown butter parsley sauce (meunière).

                                                        I also have a couple of Indian fish curry recipes from my mother. Haven't made them in a while, but they are great. One of them is a tangy tamarind-sauce curry, and the other is made with tomatoes and powdered mustard.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: Scrofula

                                                          I've got some nice Scallops recently & am still trying to think about how I want to make them. I love Scallops, but as far as I can remember, I've only had them Fried so far. Some good seasoning, lemon juice & orange juice/extract are part of my "can't go wrong with" plan so far, yet I'm still searching. Keep in mind that I've also got a fresh Octopus in the waits, so I'll be making Octopus before you know it too…lol!

                                                          1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                                                            How long are you planning on holding those scallops?? And I wouldn't be overdoing the citrus, if it was me, unless you hold them a little too long ;-).

                                                            1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                                                              What kind of scallops? If they are dry-packed sea scallops, there's no better way to cook them than to season simply and sear briefly in a hot, hot pan.

                                                          2. I go differently when I'm back where I grew up, an hour from the ocean. But in the desert where I am now, fish in my price range is not fresh caught. I like panko to give it crunch. Breaded in flour/eggs/panko and fried is amazing. Same breading and baked on a rack is still pretty good. I actually like fish of uniform thickness topped with panko that has been tossed with a little olive oil, kosher salt, and chopped parsley and then baked until just done very well.