Cooking white fish is easy. The hard part — besides figuring out what’s sustainable — is choosing the recipe.
Broiled, Sautéed, Roasted, Poached
Mark Bittman, New York Times Magazine, March 31, 2011
You can cook any white fillet the same way you cook any other white fillet: broiled, sautéed, roasted or poached, and
teamed with just about any seasoning you can think of, from the obvious, like tomatoes and capers, to the semiexotic,
like sugar and fish sauce. (In this recipe chart, I’m assuming you’ll always use salt and pepper.) And this isn’t just me
giving you permission or a barely acceptable compromise. It works.
The chart below provides ideas for cooking 1½ pounds of white fillet, whether whole or cut into individual portions.
None of these recipes take more than half an hour from start to finish; thicker pieces of fish will cook in 15 minutes or
less, thinner pieces in under 10. You can tell that any fillet is done when it’s opaque and a thin-bladed knife meets little
resistance when you use it to poke the thickest part of the fish.
With Tomatoes and Capers
Set rack 4 inches from heat
source. Spread a broiler-safe
pan with olive oil. Add fish. Mix 1
pound sliced tomatoes with oil
and 2 tablespoons each capers
and chopped red onion. Spread
over and around fish; broil.
Garnish: Chopped parsley and
Skip tomatoes and capers. Rub
fish with vegetable oil and a mild
chili powder; broil. Meanwhile
combine 2 chopped cucumbers,
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, 1
minced hot chili and 2
tablespoons lime juice. Flake fish
and serve in warm corn tortillas
with cucumber salsa.
Skip tomatoes and capers. Heat
a little vegetable oil in pan;
dredge fish in a mixture of brown
sugar and (lots of) coarse black
pepper. Broil carefully; fish will
brown quickly. Drizzle with fish
sauce. Garnish: Mint (lots),
minced chili (optional).
Cut fish into 4 pieces and soak in
1½ cups buttermilk. Combine 1 cup
cornmeal with 1 tablespoon chili
powder. Put a large skillet over
medium heat; add 1 tablespoon
each olive oil and butter. Pull half
the fish from buttermilk; drain, then
dredge in cornmeal; cook until
golden, turning once. Wipe skillet
clean, then repeat. Garnish: Lemon
and parsley or cilantro.
Skip buttermilk, cornmeal and chili
powder. Beat 2 eggs with ¼ cup
chopped parsley. Dredge the fish
lightly in all-purpose flour, then in
egg mixture; cook in butter and oil in
two batches. Garnish: Chopped
parsley, lemon wedges.
Skip buttermilk, cornmeal and chili
powder. Lay 2 slices of prosciutto,
slightly overlapping, on work
surface; top with basil leaves. Wrap
each piece of fish in prosciutto/basil,
then repeat. Cook in oil only in two
batches. Garnish: More basil.
Heat oven to 475. Put 4
tablespoons butter in an ovenproof
pan and place in oven to melt. Add
4 tablespoons chopped herbs (a
combo is best — parsley, dill, basil,
tarragon, thyme, etc.), then add
fish. Roast, turning once. Garnish:
The pan juices.
Skip butter and herbs. Heat oven to
425. Toss 2 pounds sliced new
potatoes with ¼ cup olive oil.
Roast, turning occasionally, until
brown. Add 1 tablespoon chopped
sage and 1 teaspoon (or more)
minced garlic. Top with fish and 2
tablespoons oil. Roast until fish is
done. Garnish: Pan juices.
With Leeks and Bacon
Skip butter and herbs. Toss 4
sliced leeks and 2 ounces chopped
bacon (optional) with ¼ cup olive
oil. Roast for 10 minutes, then add
1 tablespoon thyme leaves and ½
cup white wine. Roast 20 minutes,
then top with fish and 2
tablespoons oil and roast until fish
is done. Garnish: More thyme.
With Ginger and Soy
Put a large, deep skillet over
medium heat; add 2 tablespoons
vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon
minced ginger; cook until sizzling.
Add fish, ½ cup soy sauce, 1½
cups water, ½ cup chopped
scallions, ½ cup chopped cilantro
and a teaspoon rice vinegar. Boil,
cover and turn off heat. Fish will be
done in about 10 minutes. Garnish:
Curried With Zucchini
Sauté 1 chopped onion and 2
chunked zucchini in oil for 5
minutes, then add 1 tablespoon
ginger and 1 tablespoon curry
powder (or to taste). Cook for a
minute, then add fish. Substitute 1
cup coconut milk for soy sauce and
use 1 cup water. Skip scallions and
vinegar. Garnish: Cilantro.
In Tomato-Fennel Broth
Skip ginger; use olive oil. When oil
is hot, add 1 chopped onion and 2
chopped fennel bulbs; cook 5
minutes. Add the fish, a pinch of
saffron and 1 tablespoon fennel
seeds. Substitute 1 cup diced
tomatoes (canned are fine) for soy
sauce; use 1 cup water. Skip
scallions, cilantro and rice vinegar.
Garnish: Chopped fennel fronds.