Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Fish: The Perfect Weeknight Meal

Making fish is mostly a weeknight affair in my house. It cooks so quickly that it almost seems like cheating to make it on the weekends when I have more time to cook. I tend to buy fillets – lately tilapia or arctic char, sometimes catfish, all less expensive these days than salmon. My fallback fish prep method could hardly be more bare-bones: Heat a blend of olive oil and canola oil in a frying pan on the stove. Salt and pepper both sides of the fish fillets. When the oil is hot gently lay the fillets in the pan. Saute until they’re golden brown and gently flip the fillets. When they’re cooked all the way through, remove the fish from the pan. Depending on how thick the fillets are cooking time could take from five to ten minutes. Squeeze a little lemon on top and enjoy. Alternatively, remove the fish from the pan, add a little butter and cook it until it turns a nutty brown. Pour the butter over the fish and top with chopped parsley. Max time: 15 minutes. Simple, healthy, and delicious.

Sometimes I want to switch up the flavors, and I recently found a very simple recipe on Cooking Spicy South Asian Roasted Fish calls for halibut fillets; I’ve made it with arctic char and catfish (we preferred the former and I think it would also be good with salmon and tilapia). The recipe calls for lemongrass which I skip… So five ingredients go in a blender or food processor to make a sauce. Pour the sauce over the fish fillets and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes. Easy! Tasty! Tonight I served it with rice and wilted baby bok choy.

The sauce calls for a half-cup of light coconut milk. To add a little more flavor to the rice I use the rest of the can of coconut milk as part of the liquid the rice is cooked in. The rice becomes a little sweet and a touch sticky, a nice complement to the spicy fish.

One note: the recipe calls for “chili sauce”. I’ve been using Vietnamese chili garlic sauce which is very spicy. So, I cut the quantity from 2 TB to a scant 1 TB.

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