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Old 04-07-2009, 11:19 AM   #11
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I've spent the past 25 or so years teaching cooking, and one of my favorite subjects is fish. That's probably because I like it so much. The following is an adaptation of the first recipe in the Fish chapter of my book. I probably cook fish in one of these ways three nights a week. (We eat a lot of fish!) In fact, we're having trout tonight!

None of these are done in a pouch, but that is another great way to cook it.

"Everyday Fish"

Here are some of the ways I fix “everyday” fish.
I’m most likely to pick up a fish fillet or two at a nearby market, so I’ll choose from whatever’s handy. It could be salmon, cod, catfish, sea trout, grey sole or tilapia. For each person, you’ll want about 6 ounces of fish.

The ways I most often prepare “everyday” fish are broiled, sautéed or “pan-poached. “ For broiling, I keep small disposable aluminum broiler pans on hand. The everyday condiments I try to keep in my pantry include: lemons and limes, extra-virgin olive oil, Noilly-Prat dry Vermouth, capers, various flavored vinegars, an assortment of Dijon mustards, dried herbes des Provence, and of course, sea salt and whole white peppercorns to grind fresh.


The rule of thumb for cooking fish is that it takes 8 minutes for every inch of thickness. Don’t forget that, just like meat or poultry, fish continues to cook after you remove it from the heat source. If you leave it in too long, the fish will become dry and disagreeable. Your fish will be cooked through if you follow this formula. Don’t worry, this is not about raw fish!


Now, I’ll take the same 6-ounce piece of tilapia and give you examples of my three “ordinary” cooking methods.


Broiled:
Preheat the broiler. Spray a disposable broiler pan with oil. (I usually use extra-virgin olive oil.) Place the fillet skin side down on the pan. Use sea salt and white pepper to taste, and sprinkle a little lemon juice. Drizzle just a teaspoon of very fruity extra-virgin olive oil over the fish, if you like. Broil about 2 inches away from the flame for 5 to 8 minutes, depending upon how thick the fish is. If you like, you could add some seasoned crumbs to the top of the fish for the last 3 minutes of broiling.


Sautéed:
Warm a small sauté pan and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sauté a handful of sliced onion in this oil until translucent. Push them to one side and place the salted and peppered fish fillet, skin side UP in the center of the pan. Cook over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes. Turn the fish over and sprinkle with some fresh herbs if you have them. Add salt and pepper to taste, and slide the onions down around the fish. Turn the heat down to medium and cook 5 to 6 minutes longer. Add a few capers to the pan for the last couple of minutes. Sprinkle with fresh lemon or lime juice just before serving with wedges of the appropriate citrus fruit.


Pan-poached:
Warm a small sauté pan (with a cover). Spray lightly with oil. Spread the top of the fish fillet with about 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard. (If you can find the wonderful tarragon mustard of Edmond Fallot, do try it!) Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste, and place the fillet ­ mustard side DOWN ­ in the hot oil. Cook for about 3 minutes this way, then use a spatula to turn the skin side down. Add ¼ cup of vermouth to the pan and scrape up the mustard and brown bits on the pan bottom. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then cover the pan and let the fish “poach” (or steam) in the liquid for 5 or 6 minutes more. Pour those yummy juices over the fish fillet on the service plate!


In addition, if you want to get a crumb topping to stick well to the fish, try brushing the top of the fillet with a little lightly beaten egg white before dipping into crumbs, or sprinkling with herbs.
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Old 04-08-2009, 12:38 AM   #12
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Chef June's advice is right on. I also cook a lot of fish and seafood and formerly owned a well-known seafood restaurant in Florida.

The best advice I can add to Chef June's is buy the freshest fish possible, no matter what type it is. I'd much rather prepare fresh mackerel at $2/lb than questionable swordfish at $17/lb. The best test for freshness is your nose. If it smells like fish, it isn't fresh. Fresh fish of whatever variety has a very mild, pleasant odor.

One of my favorite techniques for preparing filets of fish is also the most simple and basic - pan-frying: Season the filets with salt and pepper. Dredge lightly in flour, shaking off any excess. Dip in an egg wash (equal amounts of egg and water) and saute rapidly in a preheated skillet with butter or olive oil.

A typical thin filet (1/2 to 3/4 inch) will only take 3 minutes or less per side. Afterwards you can garnish, finish or sauce it as you like. One of the easiest is a little parsley, lemon butter, and perhaps sliced or grated hard-boiled egg.
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Old 04-08-2009, 10:00 AM   #13
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What about frozen fish? I live far, far away from oceans so "fresh" fish here, has probably been frozen then thawed, and has spent quite a bit of time in transport. Unless it has been flown in by a specialty store, and thus quite expensive, our option here for "fresh" is frozen.
Do you thaw, then cook? How about relatively thin filets? I would like to incorporate more fish in my diet, but find it hard to do so when so far removed from the source.
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Old 04-08-2009, 11:01 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wyogal View Post
What about frozen fish? I live far, far away from oceans so "fresh" fish here, has probably been frozen then thawed, and has spent quite a bit of time in transport. Unless it has been flown in by a specialty store, and thus quite expensive, our option here for "fresh" is frozen.
Do you thaw, then cook? How about relatively thin filets? I would like to incorporate more fish in my diet, but find it hard to do so when so far removed from the source.
I would thaw in the fridge, then dry well with sturdy paper towels and proceed with cooking. For very thin fillets, you might opt to broil from frozen, but not when they're board stiff.

Fincas: I have a whole nother section that deals with choosing the fish in the first place and storing it when you get it home.
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Old 04-08-2009, 12:55 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefJune View Post
I would thaw in the fridge, then dry well with sturdy paper towels and proceed with cooking. For very thin fillets, you might opt to broil from frozen, but not when they're board stiff.

Fincas: I have a whole nother section that deals with choosing the fish in the first place and storing it when you get it home.
I think most fillets which are offered at the fish stores in Brooklyn
are previously frozen. I would defrost before cooking and
agree with June to dry the fish before cooking. I wish there
was some way to get a country of origin tag on the fish we buy.
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Old 04-08-2009, 01:33 PM   #16
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Thanks!
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Old 04-08-2009, 02:19 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike in brooklyn View Post
I think most fillets which are offered at the fish stores in Brooklyn
are previously frozen. I would defrost before cooking and
agree with June to dry the fish before cooking. I wish there
was some way to get a country of origin tag on the fish we buy.
The country of origin is provided in many markets, and soon will be required by law. So check to make sure your stores are providing that info.
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Old 04-08-2009, 03:45 PM   #18
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how about some ideas for steaming fish (prep, herbs, etc)? I keep meaning to try that with my bamboo steamer and then remember that I have no clue what to do first.
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Old 04-08-2009, 04:18 PM   #19
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The country of origin is provided in many markets, and soon will be required by law. So check to make sure your stores are providing that info.
The "Country of Origin Labeling Law for Fresh & Frozen Seafood" went into effect April 4, 2005. Markets around here have been labeling both fresh & frozen seafood for at least a year prior to that date. If your market doesn't have prominent signs on each seafood product, like they're supposed to, with the country of origin, they must - by law - at least have that information on hand to provide you when you ask.

The only seafood items not covered by the law are those that are cooked or otherwise further processed (marinated fish, stuffed fish, etc.) prior to sale.
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Old 04-08-2009, 04:22 PM   #20
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I was thinking the same thing, Breezy (we live roughly in the same area). Most places I shop have the info available. I HAVE had to question the fish guy about "Gulf" shrimp that are probably Gulf of Thailand (icky, no-taste tigers) rather than Gulf of Mexico. Fortunately, the tigers can be readily distinguished from the ones I like.
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