Beautiful Brain Food

Beautiful Brain Food

So many people are afraid to cook fish. I think there are several reasons for this: 1)  They may not be able to find the specific fish called for in a recipe; generally, you can substitute. 2)  Fish is not very forgiving and can be overcooked in a few minutes.  It is difficult to judge cooking times, since you can’t order a 1 ½” thick filet as you can a beef steak.  You sort of take what you get. 3)  Fish is very perishable and it can be difficult to find really fresh fish. With that in mind, let me try to address each one of these issues: The very simple, yet sophisticated recipe below can be made with any firm fleshed white fish.  Specific suggestions include halibut, grouper, tilapia and cod.  If you use tilapia, you will need to reduce the cooking time, since it is usually a much thinner fish filet.  If you are using Halibut, after taking out a bank loan, you may want to cut the filet into two pieces horizontally, making thinner filets and thus making it easier to judge doneness.  The basic rule of cooking time is 10 minutes per inch measured at the thickest point of the filet.  If the very ends are really thin, tuck them under, making the filet as evenly thick as possible.  Remember too, the fish will continue to cook after it is taken off the heat, so it’s best to cook it only until it is just opaque throughout. When you first begin to cook fish, use your piece as a tester.  When you think it is just done, cut through the center (thickest part) of your piece to check.  Push lightly on the surface to see how springy it is.  Look at the filet.  Does it look pink and fleshy or whitish and flaky?  If it’s still raw looking, put it back on/in the heat for another minute and cut through at another point close to the original cut.  Push on it again.  Your piece may end up a bit mangled, but you will learn what fish looks and feels like on the outside when it is properly cooked on the inside.  While you are doing this testing, don’t get distracted.  You can’t take fish off the heat, let it sit and then put it back on the heat.  The testing process needs to be done quickly.  If it is over-cooked (and that can happen in seconds) you can’t save it.  Although, you can make it into a tasty salad-just let it cool, flake it and add some celery, drained and rinsed capers and a little mayo and fold together with a rubber spatula.
Properly Cooked White Fish-Cod

Properly Cooked White Fish-Cod

Buying fish at most large supermarkets is less than ideal.  Think about it.  The fish is caught, shipped to a central processing location, broken down (fileted), and then shipped out to individual stores.  It can’t possibly make that trip in less than 3-4 days at best.  Buying it at a smaller market or better yet, at a fish market is much better.  Do the sniff test.  Fresh fish should smell like the sea, not like fish.  Say “No Thanks” to fishy fish.  Get to know the person behind the fish counter-he/she holds the key to the freshest fish.  It’s worth the extra drive, trust me. And so to a delicious basic fish recipe.  Baking fish is a great way to begin your fish-learning journey.  It’s much easier than pan cooking, poaching or grilling. Baked Sea Bass with Gremolata

Ingredients:

  • 4 sea bass fillets, skinned
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 TBL lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp parsley, minced
  • 1 tsp capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tsp tarragon, minced (or dry, crushed)
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped.

Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 450°F. 2. Grease a large flat pan with butter or neutral oil (not a distinctive taste) like vegetable oil. 3. Combine onion, garlic, parsley, tarragon and chopped tomatoes. 4. Combine butter, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper in a bowl. 5. Brush the filets on both sides with the melted butter mixture and place on pan. 6. Sprinkle fish with tomato/herb mixture. 7. Bake for 8-10 minutes (depending on thickness of the filet) on center oven rack, then turn on broiler and allow enough time to brown the fish- about, 2-3 minutes. Watch it cook and be careful not to let it burn!  Depending on the degree of heat your broiler puts out, it might need more or less time to turn a nice light shade of brown.

Hey, all! Give me some feedback on this one if you are more comfortable cooking fish after reading this post.