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21 Jan

Fish, to taste right, must swim three times – in water, in butter and in wine. —–Polish proverb

Love that!  But then again, I love fish (and wine…and butter!).  Fish can be a mystery to cook.  My mother, as I have mentioned before, is an amazing cook.  She loves having shrimp cocktail, grilled tuna, and baked tilapia when she is visiting my family.   I was stunned a couple of years ago when I casually asked advice about cooking some sort of fish.  “I have never cooked fish before” she said.  That left me speechless.  I guess my childhood really was just meat and potatoes!  Yummy and delicious, but no fish in my mom’s kitchen.

I ate fish when I was growing up.  When I was a kid, we would go to the Friday Night Fish Fry at our local VFW hall, a favorite night out for the whole family.  There was also our local steak and burger joint, which had fabulous fish and chips.  So I guess I mean to say I had fried fish growing up…and always out.  So how did I develop not only an interest in eating fish, but also preparing it?  I guess I tipped my toe in the pond..then I jumped in!

Fish is healthy to eat.  Especially a fish like salmon, rich in omega-3 fatty acids.  Being a person that feels passionate about wellness, I wanted to prepare a variety of foods in my home.  After all, variety is so important to wellness.  I began not only going to cooking classes, but asking questions, reading cookbooks, and watching cooking shows about fish.  And I cooked!  Here a a couple of tips that I learned (the hard way).

White fish, such as tilapia, can be baked or grilled.  Tilapia often goes on sale at my local grocer, so I can make it for the whole family without blowing my budget.  Tilapia, like other white fish, has a delicate taste.  It does not need a lot of seasoning.  I usually use similar seasonings whether grilling or baking this fish.  I sprinkle the fish with salt, pepper, lemon juice, bread crumbs (I like panko), and a drizzle of melted butter or olive oil.  That is it.  Simple and easy.  It can go on the grill or into a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

Tuna steak can be marinated.  I usually make a marinade using 1 cup of olive oil, juice and zest from 1 lemon, freshly minced garlic clove, 1-2 T. basil, salt, and a bit of apple cider vinegar and wine.  Adjust to taste and let the tuna marinate for about 20 minutes. No longer because the fish will start “cooking” (think Ceviche). Toss it on the grill for about 3-4 minutes per side.  Delish!

I have had salmon poached in saki, and that is amazing.  I have poached fish in many liquids, but saki is my all time favorite.  Poaching fish can add lots of flavor to fish.  Pick your liquid.  Fish can be poached in wine or broth.  And cook time is pretty quick, usually about 20 minutes.  The salmon does not have to be totally immersed in the liquid, but it should cover most of the fish.  The poaching liquid can be seasoned as you please.  I have used salt, pepper, and a variety of seasonings, including parsley, rosemary, and dill, to season the poaching liquid.  Put the fish in the pot, add your liquid, bring to a simmer for about 20 minutes, and enjoy!

And then there is the “faux” fish dinner.  Tuna casserole.  There are millions of recipes for that.  Find one that sounds tasty and go for it.  Search the internet.  Pick up an old church cookbook.  You can find a great recipe that suits you.  My kids, believe it or not, love tuna noodle casserole.  Some people cringe at this, but we just eat this up at my house.  I had to try a couple of recipes before I hit on a winner, so keep trying till you find one that your family loves.

My mother has started cooking fish.  I am so proud of her for going out of her comfort zone (she is fabulous, funny, and in her 70’s).  She even tried sushi.  She did not like it, but like I said, she is a sport and went for it.  She rocks!

Go for it.  Reach for variety of fish and get meat out of some of your meals as the main protein.  And let the fish swim 3 times…or just use one of my recipes and enjoy!

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