IN AN AGE of dietary doom saying, where everything from three square meals a day to the goodness of milk is being challenged, fish has emerged as the new messiah. Even its fat content, which is the bane of all other animal proteins, seems blessed with health benefits.
Fish is naturally low in cholesterol and calories. It cooks quickly and radiates flavor even in the simplest presentations.
The only problem is that most of us don't know the first thing about cooking fish. Reared on frozen flounder and tinned tuna, even good cooks in America frequently find themselves at a loss when confronting a swordfish steak or a red snapper shining crimson beneath its scales. Add to this the phenomenal number of new fish varieties constantly appearing at market and it is easy to see why fish cookery in most homes amounts to preheating the broiler and juicing a lemon.
Substitutions of fish are also possible if the exact fish listed in a recipe is not available. Just make sure if a recipe is written for a fatty fish to use another of similar fat content in its place. To insure consistent results flatfish should only be replaced by other flat fish, fresh water fish by other fresh water fish and such.
Use the following listing as a guide when making substitutions;
* Lean Round Fish: Black Bass, Catfish, Cod, Grouper, Haddock, Ocean Perch, Pike, Pompano, Orgy, Ruffle, Scrod, Sea Trout, Snapper, Tilefish, Whiting.
* Fatty Round Fish: Bluefish, Salmon, Shad, Smelt, freshwater Trout, Tuna
* Dense-muscled Fish: Mahi Mahi, Monkfish, Shark, Sturgeon, Swordfish
* Flat Fish: Flounder, Fluke, Halibut, Sole, Turbot
Though all of the following recipes have been tested, cooking times can vary with the thickness of a particular piece of fish. Judge eight minutes of cooking for every inch of thickness when grilling, sauteing, boiling, broiling or frying; ten minutes per inch of thickness when steaming or baking, or with dense-muscled fish.
It is assumed that you will season all recipes to taste with salt and pepper, including the seasoning for dredging, the seasoning rubbed into the surfaces of fish before cooking and the seasoning added to sauces. For that reason we have only included salt and pepper where amounts are unusual.
All recipes yield four portions.
Black Bass on Cucumber Noodles
2 large peeled, seeded cucumbers
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 6-ounce black bass fillets
1/4 cup yogurt
1/2 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 tablespoon dried dill
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 minced clove of garlic
Juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, optional
With a vegetable peeler pare length long strips of cucumber from the cucumbers. Toss with kosher salt and set aside for ten minutes. Rinse well in cold water and shake dry. Arrange in a ring on a serving platter.
Brush four six-ounce black bass fillets with yogurt and dredge i flour and the dried dill. Saute fish in two tablespoons olive oil for two to three minutes per side. Place in the center of the cucumber noodles. Reglaze the pan with the last tablespoon of olive oil, garlic, the lemon juice, and fresh dill. Pour over the fish and cucumbers.
2 tablespoons chopped onion
minced clove garlic
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 pounds of bluefish fillets
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2/3 cup sour cream or yogurt
CIn a flame-resistant baking dish soften the onion and garlic in the butter. Add the wine and reduce to half its volume. Place bluefish in the liquid in a single layer. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the fish flakes to a gentle push.
Mix the mustard with the sour cream. Set aside. When the fish i done transfer to a warm platter with a slotted spatula. Bring the juices in the pan to a boil. Add the mustard mixture and heat through. Do not allow to boil. Cover the fish with the sauce.
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
2 teaspoons dried basil
3 cups chopped, skinned, seeded ripe tomatoes
4 skinned flounder fillet
Juice of half a lemon
BSoften the onion and minced garlic in the olive oil. Add the wine, basil and marjoram. Simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add tomatoes and simmer three minutes. Place fillets in the simmering sauce, cover and cook gently for two minutes, just until the fish is firm. Remove the fish with a slotted spatula, add the lemon juice and pour over fish.
1 cup finely chopped pitted oil-cured black olives
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup virgin olive oil
4 cleaned 8-ounce brook trout
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
Olive oil for frying
Toss olives with garlic, olive oil and salt. Set aside. Dip trout in milk and then dredge in breadcrumbs. Pan fry in one-quarter-inch olive oil until the skin is crisp and the flesh flakes to the touch. About three minutes per side. Drain on towels and serve with the sauce.
1/2 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon dried dill leaves