Cooking Fish

Back at home, whenever I asked my father for a recipe, he used to answer: “You don’t need a recipe. You need to learn the basics so you can make up your own recipes.” Then he would go to his library, pull out his books from his time at cooking school and showed me the chapters I needed to read. Today I’m a big fan of ‘learn the basics and make your own recipes’ principle.

Fish is a great choice for a quick and light dinner. For several years I was afraid to prepare fish, because, for me, they always turned out either undercooked or overcooked and dry. It wasn’t until I saw Paula Deen, in one of her shows, demonstrating how to prepare chicken breast in the oven, that I figured out the best way to make fish. 

In her show she mixed mayonnaise with different spices and coated boneless and skinless chicken breast, then baked it for 25 minutes in a 425F/220C preheated oven. Every time I make this recipe the chicken comes out juicy and tender. I did the same recipe using salmon, instead of chicken breast, and the fish turned out perfectly. 

For cooking different fish I use the same method of cooking (425F/220C) as for the chicken breast, with some variations.  Cooking time is 25 minutes for a thick  1.5”/4cm piece of fish – like salmon or halibut, 20 minutes for 1”/3cm thick – like rainbow trout, and 10 minutes for very thin fish – like a sole or tilapia fillet.  The way I choose to flavor the fish depends on the fish’s own flavor; if is a delicate fish I prefer using herbs and mild spices and if the fish is more meaty I use stronger spices.

Rainbow Trout – 2 servings

I love the delicate buttery flavor of the rainbow trout, that’s why I don’t like to use many spices when I cook it. When I buy it whole, I just use salt and pepper to spice the inside and outside of it. In the inside of the fish I place thin slices of lemon and some parsley to add some delicate aroma, then I drizzle it with a little olive oil on top.

2 Rainbow Trout
1 lemon
Parsley – a few leaves.
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

 Place fish on a lightly greased baking sheet. Sprinkle salt and pepper in the inside cut of the fish and on the outside. Slice lemon in to think round slices and place them in the belly of the fish – about three slices per fish. Add parsley leaves on top of the lemon. Drizzle a little olive oil on top of the fish. Bake in 425F/220C-preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Halibut or Salmon – 2 servings

These two fish are slightly heavier than the trout; so more spices compliment them well.  They also tend to dry easily if over cooked, that is why I love to give them extra heavy fat, either using a mayonnaise coating, like in Paula Dean’s chicken breast recipe, or add butter. Here is my recipe using butter.

½ kilo/1lb  halibut or salmon
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp granulated garlic
1 tbsp dry dill
salt and pepper

Place fish on a slightly greased baking sheet. Sprinkle spices evenly on top of the fish. Slice butter to thin pieces and place on the fish. Bake in 425F/220C-preheated oven for 25 minutes.