I often hear that many people are mystified about how to choose and cook fish or how to find fish that fits their budget. Whitefish, of which there are many types, are usually very affordable. Even better? It’s suitable for a variety of preparations. (See also: How to Shop for Fresh Fish)
What to Look for in a Piece of Fish
First of all, do not assume that fresh fish is always best. What you may not know is that “flash-frozen” fish may actually be tastier than “fresh,” which may have spent several days in refrigeration. “Flash-frozen” means that the fish was frozen, on the fishing boat, within four hours of being caught.
If you are buying cheap white fish using your nose. Lift up that package and give it a sniff. If it smells really “fishy,” odds are that it is not very fresh. Also, look at the liquid in the package. It should be clear, not milky. Milky liquid indicates the beginning of spoilage. If you are buying a whole fish, check the gills — they should be bright red. Eyes should be bright and clear.
Okay! Now that you’ve chosen a nice piece of fresh fish, let’s prepare it. The following are fifteen suggestions for cooking fish that are tried-and-true
White Fish Recipes
First up, my own creation. If you don’t like coconut, just leave it out.
Marla’s Crispy Coconut Fish
2 large fillets (tilapia or mahi-mahi work well)
2 T. flour
½ cup panko crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs)
¼ cup shredded coconut
1 T. rice flour (for extra crunch)
¼ t. salt
¼ t. pepper
Oil for frying
You’ll need three cereal bowls or small bowls.
In the first bowl, put the flour, rice flour, salt, and pepper. Mix and set aside.
In the second bowl, beat the eggs and set aside.
In the third bowl, combine the panko and coconut.
Dip the fillets into the first bowl and get them well-coated with flour, salt, and pepper.
Next, dip the fillets into the beaten egg wash.
Third, roll the filets into the coconut-panko mixture and gently tap to remove excess breading.
Fry on each side until crispy. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
During much of my childhood, we had fish on Fridays. Unfortunately, my mother had a limited fish repertoire, and that meant sole in a white sauce. That experience made me reluctant to try solely for years. Sole, however, is delicious, and I am glad I got over the resistance to use it. The second recipe I’d like to share here is for baked sole with tarragon butter.
Not only is it easy, but it looks elegant if you are entertaining and want something showy. When asked to describe the flavor of tarragon, I am at somewhat of a loss. I asked this question of the good old Internet and found that I wasn’t the only one. I am reminded of anise or licorice…but it has a bit of sharpness, too. Sole (and chicken breasts) are really nice with tarragon — may be because they are both mild and don’t compete with the herb.
When I used to be a lady who lunched, I noticed stuffed sole turned up on menus a lot. It still pops up at the occasional event, and I am always glad to see it. It does seem luxurious, but if you clean and cook your own shrimp, you can keep the cost down.