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The best way to get the freshest fish available is to simply ask. Ask your local market what’s fresh today? This will sometimes require being flexible about the kind of fish you cook. Fresh fish always tastes better. The freshest fish will smell of the sea (briny) but not fishy; the gills should be bright and moist; the meat firm and springy; and the scales should not be dull or flake off easily.

Fish come in three basic varieties:

  • White fish — cod, grouper, sole and haddock, etc. These fish have translucent skin that turns an opalescent white when cooked. This type of fish is good for sauteing and baking.
  • Meaty fish — salmon, trout, tuna and sardines, among others. Meaty fish are oilier and thicker than other varieties and contain good oils (omega 3 fatty acids). They are often grilled.
  • Shellfish — lobster, shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, mussels and oysters. Shellfish can be cooked almost any way and served hot or cold.

Resist the temptation to cook fish until it flakes. Fish is done when the color turns from translucent to opaque (white) or has reached 140°F on an instant read thermometer, otherwise, you run the risk of overcooking it.

If you buy fresh seafood, use it the same day or freeze it immediately. If frozen, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, never on the kitchen counter. Rinse fish in cold water, drain and pat dry with paper towels.

Almond-Crusted Fish

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Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped green pimento-stuffed olives
  • 1/4 cup chopped 
fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped 
drained capers
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Four 5-oz skinless white fish fillets (cod, grouper, catfish, sea bass, halibut, grouper, haddock, snapper, etc.)  about ¾ inch thick
  • 1 large egg white, 
lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup sliced unsalted almonds

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine the minced onion, olives, parsley, capers, vinegar and the 2 tablespoons olive oil; set aside.

Brush the top (skinless side) of the fish with egg white. Press almonds evenly over the top of the fish.

In a very large skillet on medium, heat the remaining 4 teaspoons of oil. Add the fish, crusted side down and cook until the almonds are toasted, 
2 to 3 minutes. Carefully turn the fish with a wide spatula and continue cooking until the fish is cooked through, 
3 to 4 minutes.

Remove the fish to a serving platter and spoon the olive mixture on top.

Parchment-Baked Fish

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Serves: 1

Ingredients

  • One 6-oz fish fillet
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 thin slices red onion
  • 1/2 small fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
  • 4 Kalamata, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper (chili) flakes, or to taste
  • 2 large sprigs rosemary

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Tear off 1 piece of parchment to form a square large enough to enclose the fish. Place the parchment on a baking dish and place the fish in the center of the square. Drizzle with oil, then rub in the garlic and season with black pepper. Sprinkle sun-dried tomatoes over the top.

Arrange onion slices over the fish and top with the fennel and olives. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and lay rosemary sprigs on either side of the fish, tucking them firmly against the fish.

Grasp the top and bottom edges of the paper parallel to the work surface and bring them together up over the fish, pinching together at the top. Fold over by about 1 inch, then continue folding down, leaving about 1/2 inch of space above the fish to allow for steam. Fold each side toward center until about 1/4 inch from fish.

Place the baking dish in the oven and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the  thickness of the fish. Remove the baking dish from the oven and place the pouch on a serving dish or plate. Carefully unfold parchment to allow steam to escape and serve immediately.

Fish Florentine

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Serves 2

Ingredients

  • Two 5-oz fish fillets
  • 5 grape tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian-leaf parsley
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 large shallots, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 oz. baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place the fish and the tomatoes in a glass baking dish. Sprinkle garlic and parsley over the top and squeeze the lemon juice over the fish. Cover with foil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the fish is opaque and registers 140°F on an instant read thermometer.

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, sauté shallots in oil for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium and add the spinach, cooking until wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the feta cheese and heat until melted and evenly distributed.

To serve, place 3/4 cup of the spinach-feta mixture on each plate and place 1 fillet and half the tomatoes on top of each serving.

Poached Fish In Tomato Sauce

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4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
  • One 14.5-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Four 5-oz. skinless cod, bass, flounder, etc. fish fillets

Directions

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and Aleppo pepper and cook, stirring often (garlic should not brown), about 2 minutes.

Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you add them, wine, bay leaves, saffron and ½ cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, 5 minutes; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Reduce heat to medium-low; season fish with salt and pepper and place in the skillet with the poaching liquid. Cover and cook at a bare simmer until fish is opaque throughout, about 5–7 minutes and the fish registers 140°F on an instant read thermometer. (Thicker pieces will take longer to cook).

Gently transfer fish to individual shallow bowls and spoon poaching liquid over.

Fish Baked in Phyllo Pastry

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This recipe makes a great entree for company.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • Six 5 ounce fish fillets
  • 4 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 4 ounces crab meat
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • 12 sheets phyllo pastry
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Hot sauce to taste

Directions

In a mixing bowl gently combine the crab, cream cheese, onion, parsley, salt, pepper and a few shakes of hot sauce.

Divide the stuffing evenly on top of each fillet and pat it flat with a spatula.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and brown the fish fillets on the side without the stuffing.

Remove 2 sheets of phyllo pastry from the roll and cut them in half. Lightly brush each piece with melted butter and stack them together.

Place a fish fillet on top of the phyllo layer and fold the pastry over the fish so it is completely covered and the edges are sealed.

Repeat the process with the remaining 5 fish fillets and pastry. Place the fish packets on a platter and refrigerate until it is time to cook them.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and bake 20-25 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden.

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