Look, I’m not a big fish lover, though I’ve got to tell you some of the fine fish dishes we’ve been served up have radically changed my gut reaction to those scaly creatures. We’ve had great sushi, fish that didn’t taste like fish, fish that didn’t look nor taste like fish and fish that tasted like fish but was so well prepared, we didn’t seem to mind; in fact we kept being surprised. Would I go out and buy them, during the Nine Days? Maybe, but otherwise, not so much; even if the stats on fish being a heart healthy, stroke and Alzheimer’s preventative food, are definitely very convincing.
So, in keeping with with the season (and in lieu of meat), I thought I’d share a few tips learned along the way about preparing a good fish entrée.
When you’re at the store pick a fish that’s firm doesn’t smell fishy, but fresh like it just came out of the sea; not that I’ve had first encounters with what that smells like. If you’re buying a whole fish, the color should still be vibrant, the eyes not dulled nor opaqued. Cook it right away or freeze it, but don’t fridge it for more than a day. When preparing a milchige meal, my mother always soaked the fish in milk for a while; she claimed it got rid of any fishy taste.
- Marinades are wonderful; just don’t leave the fish in an acidic based marinades for more than 30-60 minutes. Simple marinades work great!
- Try olive oil mixed with fresh lemon juice, add a little pepper, some fresh parsley or dill, thyme or basil and voilà, fantastic!
- Add a teriyaki sauce or mix a small finely chopped onion, 1 minced garlic clove, 1/2 cup light soy sauce, 1/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1 tbsp fresh ginger, zest of a lemon or lime, add some Tabasco or crushed hot pepper if you like it hot, (works great on salmon, but then practically everything does!).
- If you like a cooler taste, try poached salmon with cucumber dill sauce. 1 c. chopped or shredded peeled and seeded cucumber, 1/2 c. yogurt or sour cream,1/2 c. mayonnaise (low fat mayo works), 1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice,1 tbsp. minced parsley,1 tbsp. dill, salt and pepper to taste. (covers 4-5 medium fish filets).
- For easy mayonnaise based sauces guaranteed to make you fatter- here are three favorites:
- ½ c. mayo, 2 tbsp. Dijon or honey mustard, 1 tbsp. honey, pinch of salt, pepper and garlic powder, ¼ tsp apple cider vinegar
- Mayo-ketchup – 1 part ketchup to two parts mayo, garlic powder to taste.
- Tartar mayo – 1/2 cup Mayonnaise,2 tbsp sweet pickle relish, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon chopped parsley, 1 tbsp chopped chives.
Personally, I like my fish baked or pan seared with a few drops of olive oil, a clove of garlic, and a couple good squeezes of fresh lemon.
Fish is versatile and porous so it doesn’t take much for it to absorb surrounding flavors. Poached, baked or fried, don’t overcook your fish. Take it off the flame or remove from the oven when it’s mostly done; it will continue to cook till it cools. What makes a fish kosher? Check it out here, or you can find a listing of kosher fish here. For those who suffer on these strictly milchig or pareve days… remember that is the point of the whole thing. Pray for Shabbos, join a siyum, but mostly daven for a true yeshuah when we will be zocheh to flip me’evel l’yomtov, bimhera biyamenu, amen! .