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…the healthy(er) version.

I love fish and chips, but there’s nothing worse than getting a plate full of soggy, greasy fish piled on top of soggy fries. But, when it’s done right, this classic British dish can be mouth watering. I think one of the most important components to good fish and chips is the breading. If it’s not crispy and crunchy, it’s just not right. But that crispy, crunchy flavor comes at a cost: deep fried unhealthiness. In an effort to make a healthier plate of fish and chips, we turned to cornmeal as the breading in hopes that it would be lighter, yet still have a great crisp texture. No deep frying here!

Here’s what you’ll need:
Serves: 2
Fish
– 2 cod (or any other white fish) fillets, about 4 oz. each
– 1 cup flour
– 2 eggs
– 2 tbsp water
– 1 cup corn meal
– salt and pepper
– paprika
– vegetable oil
Chips
– 1 large russet potato
– 1 large sweet potato
– olive oil
– salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set up a breading station for the fish — first the flour in a shallow bowl, then the eggs and water (beat gently together), and finally the cornmeal in a shallow bowl. Season each with salt, pepper and paprika.

The fish will only take a few minutes to cook, so you want to get your fries going before hand so they have plenty of time to cook though. Cut them into the desired shape/size/thickness (we use one of these) and toss with oil and salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer and cook in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until mostly cooked through. Once the fries are nice a tender, turn the heat up to 425 or 450 to let them get nice and brown and crispy, this should only take about 10 or 15 minutes.

After turning the heat up for the fries, begin breading your fish and heating the oil (the timing from this point on should be perfect). In a large, non-stick saucepan, heat about an inch of oil over medium to medium-high heat. While the oil is heating, coat the fish in flour, then dip in the egg mixture, then dredge nicely in the cornmeal. Test the oil with a bit of cornmeal, it’s hot enough if the cornmeal dances around.

Gently place each fish fillet in the hot oil and let cook for two to three minutes, or until it begins to brown. Do not mess with the fish once you’ve laid it in the oil…you want it to cook and brown evenly. Once you have a nice brown crust, gently flip the fish and cook for another two to three minutes. After about six total minutes, the fish should be nice and crisp and brown on both sides and completely cooked through on the inside. Remove from the pan onto a paper towel to let it drain, and season with more salt while it’s still hot. Serve the hot fish on a heaping pile of fries with tarter sauce and ketchup.

Healthy(er) Fish and Chips

This was definitely not your typical restaurant (or pub) style fish and chips, but it sure was delicious! The fish was so flakey and tender with a nice crispy, crunchy outside. The cornmeal breading was completely different than any breading I’ve had on a fish fillet before, but it worked really well. The fish wasn’t greasy at all, but it still had that great fried fish taste.

The fries were perfectly cooked — crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside. And talk about healthy, no frying here! Avoiding deep frying really gives the fries a whole new taste, you actually taste the potato instead of the oil they were cooked in. The texture is also really nice.

Overall, I thought this was a great alternative to the typical greasy fish and chips. That’s not to say that I’ll never indulge in the real deal again, but this was a great way to enjoy something that is typically really unhealthy without feeling guilty. Plus, less grease and fat meant more room for ice cream for dessert!

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Sorry folks, no recipe here today, but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk about the most delicious scallops I’ve ever had. I’m a huge fan of most seafood, but scallops have never been my favorite. That is, until I tasted the most succulent, melt-in-your mouth, sweet scallops ever. Ever.

In recent months, we’ve given up on buying seafood in the regular grocery store. In this land-locked state, it just never seemed that fresh (even though 99 percent of the seafood around here is frozen anyway). Plus, we had a few experiences where we ended up throwing fish out because it just didn’t smell or look that great, and that’s one food we definitely don’t want to take risks with. Enter our new favorite fish monger: Nantucket Shoals Seafood Market in Albuquerque. A friend of my family suggested this place to us for the freshest fish you’d ever find in this state, and he wasn’t messing around. It’s a little bit of a drive from our house, but it’s conveniently on my way home from work. Needless to say, I’ve been stopping on my way home at least once a week for the last two or three months.

While putting together our menu last weekend, we decided on throwing together a shrimp and scallop pasta. Little did I know that I would soon be eating the best darn scallops I’ve ever eaten. We bought a bunch of bay scallops, since the little guys always seem to taste better than the big guys (at least around these parts) from our new fish monger and cooked them that night to go along with our favorite alfredo sauce and a nice thick spaghetti. (We ended up scratching the shrimp because the scallops looked amazing.) Since the alfredo sauce packs a lot of flavor, we just sauteed the scallops in a little garlic and olive oil for about three minutes. Honestly, they didn’t need any help in the flavor department.

Scallop Alfredo Pasta

I honestly never have tasted a scallop this good in my entire life. These little guys literally melt in your mouth as soon as you bite in to them, not to mention how sweet they were. They paired perfectly with the alfredo sauce, but totally could have stood on their own with just that simple saute. After eating these, I’m a scallop fan for life! Thank you Nantucket Shoals!

For any of you in the Albuquerque/Rio Rancho area, make sure to check out Nantucket Shoals for the best (and freshest) fish around. The address is 5415 Academy, just east of Academy and San Mateo (right next door to Trombino’s). And if you’re not convinced yet, a ton of restaurants in the area get their fish from Nantucket’s wholesale market — so they must be doing something right!

While thumbing through the latest issue of Cooking Light over the weekend, I saw an “advertisement” for Norwegian salmon which included three recipes. I’ve never heard of “Norwegian” salmon, nor do I know where I could get it around here. Nevertheless, the recipe for chioppino-style Norwegian salmon looked delicious (and easy), so we put it on our menu anyway. (We used Atlantic salmon, by the way, and it still turned out delicious as ever.)

Here’s what you’ll need:
Serves: 4
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 1 onion, diced
– 4 cloves garlic, minced
– 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
– salt and pepper
– 2 cups tomatoes, diced (we used half fresh tomatoes and half canned)
– 1/2 parsley, roughly chopped
– 1 cup clam juice
– 4 (Norwegian) salmon fillets

As a side note before we get into the recipe, we served this over pasta because it sounded (and looked, in the picture) like the tomatoes, onions and clam juice created a nice sauce. If you plan on doing this, bring a pot of water to a boil while you work on the sauce so the pasta can cook while the salmon is cooking.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan (you’ll want to use one that has a lid) over medium-high heat. Add the onions to the pan and saute until they become translucent, about three minutes. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, then add the garlic to the pan. Continue to saute the onions and garlic until the garlic becomes fragrant, one to two minutes. Add the tomatoes, parsley and clam juice to the pan and stir to combine. Let the tomato mixture begin to bubble, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for five minutes.

After the sauce has been simmering for five minutes, raise the heat to medium and place the salmon fillets in the pan (this is also where you’d drop the pasta). Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the salmon is completely cooked through (we flipped the fillets halfway through the cooking). Serve the salmon and some sauce over freshly cooked pasta or rice.

Cioppino-Style Salmon Over Pasta

This salmon was absolutely delicious. It was juicy and flavorful from cooking the the tomato sauce and it paired perfectly with a little angel hair pasta. The tomato sauce was very fresh and went well with the salmon (and it also made a perfect sauce for the pasta). This is a great recipe for the spring and summer months, as it was very fresh and light. It would also be delicious with added vegetables such as zucchini or mushrooms. This will definitely become a regular in our repertoire of recipes.

I was able to find a PDF of the “advertisement” with the recipe, but it can also be found in the March 2010 issue of Cooking Light.

I haven’t always been a fan of fish tacos. That’s probably because my first experience with them was sub-par. Since then, I’ve had many variates of fish tacos — grilled, fried, shrimp — and I’ve determined that when they’re done right, they’re delicious. One of the best fish tacos I’ve ever had came from Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill restaurant in Vegas. They were served with three different sauces and a slaw for garnish. They were totally awesome, and from then on I knew I wanted to find a recipe for fish tacos that was easy but full of flavor.

When looking through our collection of cookbooks and recipes (including Bobby’s Mesa Grill cookbook) none of the recipes for fish tacos really stood out to us. So, we turned to the interwebs. We settled on Tyler Florence’s recipe made with mahi mahi and panko bread crumbs. After all, he does make the ultimate everything, right?

Here’s what you’ll need:
Serves: 2 to 4
– 1 lb mahi mahi, skinned, boned and cleaned
– 1 cup flour
– 2 eggs
– 2 tbsp water
– 1 cup panko bread crumbs
– salt and pepper
– vegetable oil

To prepare the fish, cut it into strips of about one ounce each. Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a heavy-bottomed saute pan. While the oil is heating, set up a breading station — flour, eggs beaten with water, panko (season each with salt and pepper) — and dredge each strip of fish. Test the oil by dropping in a piece of bread or a small piece of fish, it should be about 375 degrees. Once the oil reaches the right temperature, fry the fish in small batches and drain on a paper towel. Season with salt while still hot.

Serve the fish in toasted corn tortillas with Tyler’s pink mayo (find the recipe for the may here) and other accoutrement (I love these with cabbage and avocado). Tyler also suggests a mango-radish salsa, but we weren’t huge fans of it and preferred the tacos without.

The Ultimate Fish Tacos

These are amazing. We’ve had them twice since the first time we tried them, and we still can’t get enough. The fish is so crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. All it takes to make a perfect taco is a little pink mayo, a few strips of nice crispy fish, some avocado (although, Billy would disagree with that one) and some shredded cabbage. A little bit of seasoned rice is also a great addition. One bite and we were sold on these amazing fish tacos. They taste so fresh, and the crispness from the cabbage adds a great crunch to the already crispy fish. It doesn’t take much effort to make these, but the little effort it does take really pays off in flavor. I guess that’s why their called the ultimate fish tacos.

Tyler’s complete recipe, including the pink mayo and mango salsa, can be found on the Food Network Web site. I strongly suggest you check out the recipes and try them ASAP! You’ll be addicted, I can almost guarantee it.

Have you ever tried a new recipe thinking it’s going to be the best thing ever, then failed miserably at it? It happened to me for the first time in a while last night, and for some reason I was super disappointed.

We were making salmon in parchment paper with a bearnaise sauce (yes, we’ve been making a lot of French food lately), which sounded really good. I had never made a bearnaise sauce, but it didn’t seem that difficult…it just needed a lot of attention. So, I was in charge of whisking the sauce to death, adding just one piece of a huge amount of butter at a time. Other than my arm getting tired halfway through the butter, everything was going fine.

The salmon had just come out of the oven and I was whisking in the last of the butter. Then all of the sudden the sauce got really thin and poof…the fat and solids separated from the oil. The sauce was ruined within seconds. We took the sauce off the heat and whisked it to death, hoping it would cool off and come back together. It didn’t.

I don’t know why I was so disappointed about this. I mean, I’ve had plenty of non-successful attempts at things in the kitchen in the past, right? I guess I’ve just never ruined something to the point of inedible before. That’s pretty disappointing. Not to mention that I felt like my arm was about to fall off by the end of the whole thing. But…whatever I suppose. Pick up the pieces, get over myself and carry on with the rest of this weeks meals, right? Right.

On the plus side, the salmon was really good — even without the sauce!

Since we’ve been trying to eat healthier, we’ve found that making healthy foods doesn’t mean skimping on flavor. The recipe for Asian style salmon from The New American Plate is a perfect example. It’s got all the great flavors that you would find in many Asian dishes without frying or using other unhealthy cooking methods.

Here’s what you’ll need:
– 1/2 cup soy sauce (the recipe calls for reduced sodium, but if you have “regular” on hand, that will work too)
– 1/4 cup lemon juice
– 1 tbsp Chinese hot mustard
– 1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice
– 1 lb salmon (4 fillets)
– canola oil
– 2 small carrots, julienned
– 1 leek (white part only), julienned
– 1 cup chicken broth
– 1 tsp sesame oil
– 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

This recipe is really easy, but be prepared to wait about an hour while the salmon marinades before you do any cooking. Combine 1/4 cup of the soy sauce, the lemon juice, mustard and five-spice powder in a resealable plastic bag. Mix together, then add the salmon fillets. Coat well and let marinade in the refrigerator for an hour, turning once.

Preheat the broiler (if your broiler is built in to your oven, make sure to put a baking sheet inside to warm it as well).

Meanwhile, heat a skillet on the oil over medium-high heat and saute the carrots and leeks until tender, about five minutes. Add the broth, the remaining soy sauce and the sesame oil and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed, 10 or 15 minutes. The salmon will take about 10 minutes per inch of thickness, so you can probably start it right after adding the liquid to the pan. Place the fillets on the heated baking sheet (or broiler pan) four inches from the heat and cook until it begins to flake apart, 10 to 15 minutes based on the thickness.

Asian Salmon with Sauteed Carrots and Leeks and Rice

Asian Salmon with Sauteed Carrots and Leeks and Rice

This was seriously one of the easiest meals to make. It only took 15 minutes (minus the marinading time) and you wouldn’t even know it…it tasted like we slaved over the stove for hours. All the flavors of the soy sauce, five-spice and mustard really penetrated the meat of the salmon. The veggies stayed nice a crunchy, but also had great Asian flavors. We also cooked up some plain white rice, which made it feel like we were really in a Chinese restaurant. This dish is for sure a do-over…especially for us since we love Chinese food.

You can find the recipe in The New American Plate Cookbook, which I highly recommend. Every recipe we have made from this book has been really tasty, and it doesn’t hurt that they’re all really good for you!

There’s really only so many ways you can cook fish, but I find that the application and the sauce make all the difference in the world. Since Billy is trying some fish for the first time lately, I’ve been trying to come up with some ways to make the “fish” taste less noticeable. In my opinion, sauce is one of the best ways to do that.

Last week, we drenched a nice piece of halibut in some flour than seared/fried it in a pan over medium-high heat. This created a nice crust without being too unhealthy, plus it was the perfect vehicle for a nice lemon butter sauce. The halibut took about 15 minutes to cook all the way through, but it was a pretty thick fillet. We let each side get a nice brown color to it before flipping.

Here’s what you’ll need for the sauce:
– 2 tbsp butter
– 1 shallot, diced
– 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
– salt and pepper
– 1/2 cup white wine
– the juice of 1/2 a lemon
– about 1/4 cup heavy cream

This is a really simple sauce, and it’s great on any kind of fish (we also like to put it on rice or quinoa for a little extra flavor). Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the shallots the the pan and saute until they start to turn translucent, about two minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and let it and the shallots sweat out and cook through. Season with salt and pepper. Next, add the wine and lemon juice to the pan, bring to a simmer and let it reduce by half, about five minutes. Finally, add the cream to the pan, a little at a time (you might not use the entire quarter-cup). I usually let the cream mix in with everything and decide by how the sauce looks whether or not I want to add more. And…that’s it! Spoon the sauce over the fish and you’re good to go!

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Halibut with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Quinoa

The crust on the halibut was awesome. It gave the outside of the fish a perfect crunch, but also helped keep the fish nice and moist inside. The sauce really complimented the fish well, giving it the perfect amount of lemon flavor as well as a little texture and crunch from the shallot. We decided to give quinoa another shot, and this time it turned out really good. We used a full two cups of chicken stock to cook it, rather than half stock-half water like last time (thanks for the tip, Jenn!). It’s a great alternative to rice, and also soaked up the sauce really well…definitely a good combination!

Well, sort of. Over the weekend, we found this smoke box attachment type thing made for a regular gas or charcoal grill that basically gives you all the great flavors of smoked food without the smoker. (There are other ways of doing this, such as cooking your food directly on a wood plank, but we had never seen a box made for wood chips.) The box is pretty small, about 10 inches long and one or two inches deep, but it fits right in between the burners on a gas grill. You fill it with wood chips that have been soaked for at least 30 minutes, set it on a pre-heated grill and let it heat up until the chips start to smoke. It’s really simple to use and the salmon came out extra delicious.

Apple Wood Chips in the Smoke Box

Apple Wood Chips in the Smoke Box

We used apple wood for our Atlantic salmon fillet (at the recommendation of Bobby Flay). We soaked the chips for 30 minutes in a cup with another cup set on top to hold them down. While the chips were soaking, we seasoned the salmon with salt, pepper, garlic powder and lemon zest and rubbed in a thin layer of olive oil so the fillet wouldn’t stick to the grill. Billy pre-heated the grill, I drained the wood chips and put them in an even layer in the smoke box then placed the box in between two burners on the grill. With the grill closed, the wood chips began to heat up and started smoke away. After about 10 minutes we could smell the apply goodness…it was time to put the salmon on the grill! Billy put the salmon, skin side down, on the grill, closed the top and let the smoke box do its thing.

Salmon, Zucchini and Mr. Smoke Box on the Grill

Salmon, Zucchini and Mr. Smoke Box on the Grill

When the salmon was about half-way cooked, Billy quickly flipped it (have to get those perfect grill marks!) then shut the grill again in order to keep as much smoke in the grill as possible.

The fish was amazing. It was cooked perfectly, thanks to Billy of course, and had a subtle smoked flavor. Conclusion about the smoke box experiment: awesome deliciousness! We thought that maybe letting the food cook low and slow may give it more of a traditional smoked flavor, but the box is perfect for infusing food with a great smoky flavor. We served the salmon with grilled zucchini and quinoa (instead of rice or potatoes).

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This was also our first time trying quinoa. It was…interesting. The texture was pretty close to rice, but it had a small bite to it. It didn’t have much flavor on it’s own, but we tried to boost it up with some salt, pepper, chili powder and lemon zest. Definitely will be using it again, but will need more flavoring ideas…anybody have some they’d like to pass along?