Fish

Pan Seared Sea Bass

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bass

I don’t have sea bass that often. When I do, I utilize this fish to its maximum. As one of my favorite and one of the most expensive fish, I try to make the most of my money. What do you do when you need to impress guests or growling stomachs? I recently made this succulent mouthwatering pan seared sea bass – a truly fine catch. I actually owe hubby for the inspiration as it was he who suggested sea bass to me. The meat on the sea bass is very fleshy and eat bite literally melt in your mouth. I like to drizzle some fresh lemon juice over this buttery fish. This method enables the acidity to break up the grease and add an additional dimension to the flavor.

This sea bass recipe is not as complicated as it looks. The magic behind this recipe is the seasoning and the perfect sear. As elegant as this pan seared sea bass dish seems, the preparation and cooking is a cinch. Gourmet dishes don’t have to be labor intensive. Cooking fish requires attention to detail and a lot of care. There is nothing that irks me more than overcooked dried fish. Overcooking a sea bass is one of the worst sins you can transgress when it comes to cooking fish. It would also be a waste of your effort and money. All I really did was season the fillets with salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, onion powder and garlic powder with a lot of TLC. Then I added little finishing touches with some fresh herbs and lemon juice.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 2 sea bass fillets
  2. 1/3cup of mixed fresh herbs chopped
  3. 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  4. 1 teaspoon of onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, and paprika
  5. Lemon juice
  6. Salt and pepper for taste

Instructions

Pat fillets dry and score just through skin in 4 places. Diagonally cut each fillet in half and season with paprika, cumin, onion powder, and garlic powder. In a heavy skillet heat oil and over moderately high heat until foam subsides and sear fish, skin sides down, about 3 minutes, or until skin is golden. Turn fish over and cook 2 minutes more, or until just cooked through. Remove skillet from heat and stir in lemon juice and herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over fish and serve.

Yields 2 servings

 

Oven Baked Fish Sticks

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fish sticks

Fish sticks are very nostalgic for me for better or for worse. My kaleidoscopic memories of them jump from being served rubbery thawed frozen fish sticks for lunch at my school cafeteria to lazy Tuesday dinner nights where they were our last resort after when we couldn’t decide what we wanted for dinner. I guess those incidents are what partially turned me off from fish sticks. While I liked the convenience of heating up a package of frozen fish sticks without having to wait long, I paid for my laziness in other ways. I suppose not all shortcuts are worth taking. That is when I subconsciously decided to nix fish sticks until I recently ventured on making healthy fish sticks from scratch and it made all the difference in the world.

As someone who is health conscious, I am always in need of a healthy fix.  Commercial prepackaged frozen fish sticks always result in a mushy exterior while the fish is always soggy no matter how much you heat them. Moreover, they are laden with chemicals and artificial flavoring – you can actually taste them in every bite.  They were also incredibly greasy and just overall unappetizing.  That is why I quit the prepackaged frozen fish sticks and journeyed on healthy baked fish sticks recipes and ideas. I also decided to redeem a once favorite childhood finger food by making homemade fish sticks. Once again, my stubbornness, need of new fish recipe ideas and curiosity got in the way.

Like most things, making fish sticks is easy and quick. Once you tried this oven baked fish sticks recipe, you will never go back to that frozen soggy greasy disgrace for fish sticks.  I used hake but you can use any firm boneless white fish for this recipe such as cod, tilapia, or halibut.  Flounder results a more delicate fish stick that will fall apart.  The choice is yours. Unlike the garbage that we were accustomed to eating as kids, these healthy baked fish sticks guarantee a crispy breadcrumb exterior and a buttery moist  fish inside without the chemicals or the deep frying.  Finger food is always accompanied by a condiment of sort. Chili sauce is my choice but you can use your favorite condiment.  Kid-friendly and fun to make, these healthy baked fish sticks serve perfectly with oven baked potato wedges or roasted vegetables.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 lbs of cod fillets, tilapia, hake, flounder, or halibut cut into 1 inch strips
  2. Juice from 1 small lemon
  3. 2 large egg whites
  4. 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  5. 1 teaspoon of parsely flakes
  6. 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
  7. 1/8 teaspoon of paprika
  8. 1/8 teaspoon of ground pepper
  9. 1 cup of whole wheat bread crumbs or panko crumbs (you can use grounded nuts or corn flakes for a gluten-free option)
  10. Cooking spray

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 450°F and adjust the rack to the center position. Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with oil. Combine all ingredients  in a shallow small bowl except for fish and bread crumbs.  Working with a few pieces of fish at a time, dip the fish in the wet mixture then coat all the sides with bread crumbs.  Spray the top with cooking spray and bake for 12-15 minutes or until crisp and cooked through.

Yieds 4 servings

 

Oven-Baked Fish Cakes

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fish cakes

A good fish patty is hard to come by and store bought fish cakes were never really an option for me. Like most pre-cooked frozen packaged items, they are full of chemicals and artificial flavorings. Not only are homemade fishcakes tastier by many miles, they are much healthier too. It mostly depends on the quality and quantity of the ingredients you use as well as the preparation methods. For this particular fish cake recipe, I used fresh boneless fish fillets rather than canned fish. I much prefer to cook with fresh ingredients as they guarantee more flavor. I used salmon and bass but any boneless fish will work fir this recipe.  I borrowed and modified this recipe from a cookbook that required loads amount of butter and cream. I made and served these fish cakes over Passover and therefore I used matzo meal in lieu of bread crumbs.

With all things said, this fish cake recipe is dairy since I used yogurt but you can use mayonnaise as well. I doubled the recipe with the intentions of having enough leftovers for me to eat for lunch during the week. The inevitable happened; I miscalculated the amount of fish cakes I made so the idea of having leftover fish cakes was just mere wishful thinking, much to my chagrin. Crispy and light, these fish cakes can be served as a summery appetizer or for lunch and dinner.  Learning how to make fish cakes from scratch using fresh fish is not as daunting as it seems. I used to make a huge mess with canned fish primarily because they tend to be more watery and therefore boneless fresh fish was easier for me to work with.

Since this was my first time making fish cakes, I  went in search of perfection in my quest to pack flavour and texture into fish cakes without relying on copious amount of saturated fat. By cross-referencing two recipes and modifying the ingredients as well as measurements, I alternatively found the one that was satisfactory. If you are not serving these fish cakes immediately, they are terrific to have on hand in the freezer. You can take out as many or little as you need. Simply defrost them in your refrigerator and they will be ready for you to cook the next day. If you like, serve these fish cakes with your favorite tartar sauce.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 2 boneless salmon fillets
  2. 2 haddock, sole, or cod fillets
  3. 1 onion chopped
  4. 2 tablespoons of olive oil plus more for drizzling
  5. 1/2 cup of dry white wine (you can use semi-dry)
  6. 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley chopped
  7. Juice from one small lemon
  8. 1/2 cup of whole wheat breadcrumbs (you can use a gluten-free equivalent) plus more for dunking
  9. 1/3 cup of mayonnaise or low fat yogurt of your choice.
  10. Salt and pepper for taste

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add wine. Cut fish into cubes and add them to the pan. Cover skillet, turn off flame, and allow them to cook for 3-4 minutes. In a large shallow bowl, mix yogurt and lemon juice together. Add fish and onions to the mixture. Pour in bread crumbs. Add parsley, salt, and pepper and mix well till incorporated. Form to 10 or 12 patties. Dunk each disk in a small bowl of bread crumbs. Place patties on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until crispy.

Yields 10-12 patties

 

Mackerel Salad

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2014-03-04 15.49.16

Mackerel is believed to be part of the same family as tuna. The textures are very similar, especially when canned. I am not such a huge for tuna but sometimes I have an unexplainable torturous hankering for a tuna salad. While shopping last week, I initially intended on buying a couple of tuna cans but had a change of mind when I saw smoked mackerel fillets. Most of the fish dishes on my menu planner seem repetitive so a change of pace is always welcomed. I was looking for different lunch ideas and mackerel salad seemed ideal. I simply masked the mackerel fillets with a fork, tossed in some avocado mayonnaise, spiced it up with a bit of chili oil for an extra punch, and seasoned it as usual. I mixed it with some chopped raw vegetables and I was all set for a balanced and nutritious lunch. I reserved the remnants of the mackerel salad for my afternoon snack. Feeding into my lack of inhibition, I had a couple of tortilla chips on hand. I sometimes I have a habit of eating my own words. Out of sight out of mind is my motto but the chips were staring me down. It was hopeless. But it could have been a whole lot worse. Thankfully, junk food in the house doesn’t extend beyond chocolate, homemade popcorn (hubby found an ingenious way to make oil-free popcorn thanks to online sources. I know I rib him too much but he does deserve credit for his ambition), oven-baked tortilla chips, and fruit.

Mackerel  is one of the loveliest, versatile, and tastiest fish around that still remains plentiful. Yet, nearly everyone scorn at this oil-rich fish primarily because it is considered to be pungent, oily, and, well, somewhat fishy. This mackerel salad recipe can be enjoyed in many ways. Serve it over lettuce, grains, cooked diced potatoes, and even over oven-baked chips. All I can say is it doesn’t hurt for you to give it a try.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 2 cans of smoked mackerel fillets
  2. 1 scallion chopped
  3. 1/4 cup of avocado mayonnaise
  4. 1 teaspoon of chili oil
  5. 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  6. 1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper

Instructions

Mash mackerel with the back of a fork.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix well till combined. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Yields 2 servings

 

 

Greek Baked Hake with Tomato Chili Sauce

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2014-03-12 18.15.02

I normally don’t write a great deal on an empty stomach. I am required to fast today but felt inclined to share this hake recipe with you anyways. Otherwise I would have remained bedridden. As some of you know, the holiday of Purim falls out on Saturday night this year. For those of you who are celebrating Purim like I am, we are obligated to fast the day before as Queen Esther did for 3 days before she sought the mercy of her people from King Achashverosh who were at the threat of annihilation as decreed by his evil advisor, Haman.  The purpose of the holiday and the fast is to remind us of God’s hand in this miracle.  Purim and Yom Kippur are similar in several ways.  We fast and pray all day to repent for our sins and then we conclude it with a celebration. Just as we are judged and have our fates sealed on Yom Kippur, we were threatened with extinction by Haman due to our sins and were miraculously saved through fasting, prayer, and repentance. We cal also learn to appreciate the little miracles we have in life.  Btw, Saint Patricks Day falls around the same time as Purim. I have a special recipe that I hope to share with you tomorrow for that occasion. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this Greek style hake recipe in which I am about to share with you.

I only remember my mother serving hake for supper once. Ever since then, it has slipped off the radar till recently.  I also happen to have not shared a fish recipe with you in a long time. My local supermarket was selling fresh hake so I took the liberty of buying 2 lbs of hake fillets. Like cod, hake is mild in flavor but meaty in texture.  Akin to white fish, hake  is also a versatile fish to cook with, as one type can easily be swapped for another in a recipe. I used hake stood up to the robust Mediterranean flavors in the chili sauce. Fish happens to be symbolic for Purim. Why not have fish on your menu for your upcoming Purim meal? It’s definitely a lighter alternative to meat and pairs well with any dairy side dish  Serve this fish with bulgur, whole grain rice, or steamed vegetables.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 2 lbs of hake fillets
  2. Juice of one large lemon
  3. 2 onions chopped
  4. 3 cloves of garlic minced
  5. 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  6. 1-2 small chili peppers minced
  7. 1/8 teaspoon of brown sugar or honey
  8. 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika
  9. 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  10. 1/2 cup of dry white wine or champagne
  11. 1/2 cup of fresh parsley chopped
  12. Salt and pepper for taste

Instructions

Pat fish dry and season with salt and pepper. Place fish in a greased baking dish. Pour lemon juice over the fish. Cover with plastic wrap and let it refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour as you prepare the sauce.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet and add the onions. Cook, stirring often, until they have softened and begun to color slightly. Add a pinch of salt, minced chili pepper, and the garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic and chili pepper is fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute. Stir in the tomatoes, sugar, paprika, cinnamon, wine, half the parsley and more salt and pepper to taste and bring to a simmer. Simmer uncovered, stirring often, until the sauce has cooked down a bit and is very fragrant, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour over the fish. Sprinkle on the remaining parsley.

Place in the oven and bake until the fish is opaque and pulls apart easily with a fork, about 30 minutes. Baste the fish every 10 minutes if it is not submerged in the sauce.  Serve hot or warm.

Yields 4 servings

 

Fish Bites with Dill Sauce

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Fish Bites

With no disrespect for my dearest mother who I endlessly love and admire, I never really cared for stuffed fish. My indifference for this particular dish was not influenced by her cooking.  While I am normally a fastidious eater, I devoured almost anything she made. It’s merely due to the fact that the idea never appealed to me. She would (and still does) make and served stuffed fish, or gefilte fish every Friday night. Sometimes she would embellish it with salsa which I would occasionally eat.  This post is not meant to offend anyone who eats gefilte fish. God bless you if you do. Personally, I prefer chilled pickled salmon which my grandmother makes. I hope to share a recipe shortly because it on the top ten of my favorite fish recipes. Last night, I brainstormed the idea of making stuffed fish balls from a cocktail meatball recipe. That idea never materialized in the least.  I decided to make fish bites or bite sized fish patties out of my own volition instead.  Rather than using store-bought prepared stuffed fish, I used a combination of fresh salmon and halibut.  This recipe would also work well with sole, cod, haddock, and talapia or any fish with the least amount of bones. I was mostly surprised how quickly these fish bites were consumed. When there were two nuggets remaining, entertaining the idea of leftovers was laughable. The last two remaining nuggets were shared with me and hubby. Quick and easy to make, these crispy delights make a perfect family-friendly fish recipe idea. I served them with a homemade dill sauce, just mayonnaise, fresh dill, lemon juice, and ground pepper, but they’re just as delicious served with tomato ketchup or plain low/non-fat yogurt for dipping.  You can make these fish bites in advance and reheat them when ready to serve. Serve with fresh salad and grains.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 lbs of salmon
  2. 1 lb of haddock
  3. 1 egg or 2 egg whites beaten
  4. 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  5. 1 tablespoon of fresh dill
  6. 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley
  7. 1 clove of garlic minced
  8. 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  9. 1/4 cup of bread crumbs
  10. Salt and pepper for taste
  11. 2 tablespoons of olive oil

For the dill sauce, you will need:

  1. 1/3-1/2 cup of  lite mayonnaise
  2. 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh dill
  3. 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh mint
  4. Juice from one small lemon
  5. Ground fresh pepper for taste

Instructions

Grind salmon and halibut in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a deep shallow bowl. Add all the ingredients except for olive oil and mix well. Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Manually form fish batter into balls or patties and saute for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

For the dill sauce, process mayonnaise. dill, mint, lemon juice, and ground pepper in a food processor until blended. Serve along side with fish bites.

Yields 10-12 fish bites

California Avocado Tuna Salad

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2013-11-11 09.10.27Until recently, I never understood the appeal of tuna; let alone tuna salad. The smell is very putrid and the flavors are very much bland. I tried tuna steaks and they weren’t much of an upgrade from canned tuna. Ever since I’ve been exposed and taught many creative techniques to enhance the flavors and appearance of tuna, I occasionally treat myself to a tuna salad for lunch. After all, tuna salad is a lunchtime comfort food.  No matter how creative or spontaneous or inventive I try to be with my weekday lunches (which normally consist of Israeli salad or a garden salad. It doesn’t take extensive culinary experience nor knife skills to chop up a few vegetables), at some point I always end up craving for simple low-fat tuna salad. Only this time, I decided to throw in an exotic California twist. Normally, tuna salad is drenched in a liberal amount of mayonnaise. This recipe doesn’t require any. It has enough natural fat from avocado. I borrowed this recipe from a California grilled chicken salad recipe. I swapped chicken for canned tuna. Perhaps I should have called this recipe Cheater’s Avocado Tuna Salad. I contemplated about using tuna steaks but I was on the run and had no time to marinate the tuna steaks, grill them, and clean up the mess. I needed something quick with limited hassle. Canned tuna had to suffice for now. If you would rather use fresh tuna steaks, by all means do so. Just marinate them in fresh lemon or orange juice and mustard for 30 minutes to an hour. Season them with salt, pepper, a bit brown sugar, and cayenne pepper. Sauté each side on a preheated grill or grill pan for 2 minutes on each side. Cut them into cubes and toss them in a salad bowl with the rest of the vegetables. Truthfully, that idea sounds more appetizing. But the flavors in this tuna salad recipe are just as vibrant and exotic.  If using canned tuna, I highly recommend using the water-packed canned starkit tuna.  It has a cleaner tuna flavor and it’s lower in sodium content as opposed to the brine-packed canned tuna. If you don’t like eating tuna salad on it’s own, you can make a sandwich out if it or toss it in with some cooked pasta. I stuffed mine in a pita just the other day. Tuna salad doesn’t have to be mundane and soggy. While I have settled on this particular combination of ingredients for my tuna salad, the beauty of this dish is how different and delicious it can be when you are creative with the ingredients you use. I welcome you to share your tuna salad ideas 🙂

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 2 5 oz. cans of water-packed starkit tuna
  2. 2 small cucumbers diced
  3. 1 red bell pepper diced
  4. 1 large ripe avocado diced
  5. 1 scallion chopped
  6. Handful of seedless raisins (optional)
  7. Juice from 1 lemon or orange
  8. 1/4 cup of grape-seed or olive oil
  9. 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  10. 1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper

Instructions

Drain tuna of liquid. Transfer to a salad bowl and mash with a fork.  Add vegetables. In a separate bowl, whisk juice, oil, and spices together. Pour over salad and toss lightly. Throw in some raisins if you like. Serve.

Yields about 2 cups