Cooking Fish and Fish Recipes

Cooking fish and fish recipes for shaky chefs with a finny phobia, including knowing when fish is fresh or foul, fat or lean fish, four baking techniques and fish recipes.

| May/June 1987

For shaky chefs with a finny phobia, here are some great fish cooking tips and fish recipes. 

Cooking Fish and Fish Recipes

Last summer, when MOTHER'S editor in chief returned from North Carolina's Outer Banks with a freezerful of yellowfin tuna, he shared his catch with the editorial staff. Everyone applauded his skill and praised his generosity. Then, all afternoon, editors and illustrators skulked into my office, muttering, "How do you cook this stuff?"

There's nothing like raw fish for intimidating perfectly competent cooks. Assured with soufflés, blasé with béarnaise, they shrink from a sea bass. And no wonder: Fish is badly cooked so consistently that the means of preparing it can seem as unfathomable as the waters it came from.

Actually, fixing fish requires neither elaborate equipment nor complicated technique. If you can bake, broil, fry and simmer, you can produce superb seafood. When dinner goes awry, it's usually because 1) the fish isn't fresh, 2) the cooking method doesn't match the species or 3) the fish overcooks. All these pitfalls are easy to avoid.

Fresh or Foul Fish?

Fish is the most perishable of foods—delightful on Monday, rank on Thursday. The "fishy flavor" that keeps so many people loyal to pork chops is the taste of old fish. And once fish has turned, no sauce can disguise its taste.

If you reel in your own dinner, the rule is simple: Cook it (or freeze it) the day you catch it—or the next day at the latest. But if you're casting about for supper in a supermarket, things get more complicated; you don't know how long that fish has been out of water. How can you tell if it's edible before you buy it?

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