Fish, the Final Frontier

I grew up in a house of seafood lovers and fishermen, spending summers at the Jersey Shore. I watched my dad catch, clean and cook fish. I set crab traps in the lagoon using hotdogs and fish heads (crabs go nuts for that stuff!). But, I never really learned how to cook fish myself.

Other than my parents, I can’t think of anyone I know who frequently cooks fish. Why? The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least two times per week.

When I asked some of my friends why they don’t cook fish, I heard things ranging from, “seems hard” to “I never think to.” People seem genuinely stymied by the idea of cooking fish! After searching for some recipes, I almost was too – page after page of recipes for fish tacos and fish casserole almost made me lose my appetite forever.

Grouper, Pan-fried

Ghost Baker’s demystification of fish:

If you want the best, always cook fresh fish. The times I’ve purchased frozen fillets they have never dethawed into anything special. Put your best foot forward and buy your fish the same day that you cook it.

Fresh fish should never smell “fishy;” that’s a sure sign that it’s been sitting out. If you get a whiff of something at the grocery store that is overpoweringly fishy, just keep walking.

When you look at the fillet, make sure any liquid on it is clear and not cloudy. It shouldn’t look faded or dull.

Today I purchased a grouper fillet (maybe not the most attractive fish in the sea, but he’s tasty!). I coated the fillet with an egg (beaten), and lightly covered it with breadcrumbs. I used salt, pepper, a little bit of Old Bay and a little bit of Mrs. Dash to season the fillet. A good fillet doesn’t need to be doused in butter or deep fried – some light seasoning makes it very flavorful and preserves all those good vitamins.


I pan fried my fillet using only a tablespoon or two of oil on low heat. The cook time depends on the thickness of your fillet, mine was relatively thin and took about 8 minutes. You can tell your fish is done when the fillet is golden brown and the meat flakes off easily when tested with a fork.

My husband prepared side dishes of wild rice and green beans. In the span of 25 minutes (including both cook and prep time) we had a healthy and delicious dinner ready to eat! Cooking with fish isn’t messy – there’s no beef blood to deal with or salmonella chicken scares. The biggest “hassle” is simply going to the store to buy it fresh. It cooks quickly, requires minimal prep, and the list of health benefits of eating fish high in Omega 3 fatty acids only continues to grow!

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2 Responses to “Fish, the Final Frontier”

  1. For demystification of fish, I love Fish Without A Doubt – it was Gourmet magazine pick and with good reason! I hugely recommend it to all who fear fish (and you are right, there are a lot of us fish fearers and fish fearmongers out there).

  2. Excellent – thank you! Here’s a link for anyone who would like to check that out:

    Fish Without a Doubt: The Cook’s Essential Companion