Archive for the ‘Fish’ Category

Five Spice Fish and Garlic Spinach

3 August 15

[HERSELF SEZ: Here I am again – posting for Himself who refuses to learn how to use WordPress and relies upon me to post for him! But this IS his post!]

1 tsp grated lime peel
3 Tbs fresh lime juice
4 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp five-spice powder
1 tsp sugar
salt, pepper to taste
vegetable oil
1 lb salmon steaks
1/2 lb fresh baby spinach leaves
2 large cloves garlic, minced
nước chấm (optional)

The five spice powder is basically Chinese in origin, but this is a kinda fusion version. For me it has a bit of a Vietnamese hint to it. I’m not sure what you’d call the rest of the influences. The Chinese get a bit mystical about the whole thing and talk about five spice powder being the perfect balance of sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty; the five fundamental taste groups of Chinese cuisine. To my simple old Western mind it has cinnamon, clove, star anise, ginger, and fennel. Whether it was some mystical blend to achieve universal harmony, or some genius with taste buds made it, or some dumb assistant cook sneezed ad dumped all the spices together is immaterial and will probably never be known. Who cares, it is good stuff. There are many variations, but when you get it at the store it will probably be something similar to the above.

On to the goodies:

Mix up the marinade: lime peel, juice, five spice powder, sugar, a splash of oil (about a teaspoon), salt and pepper to taste. Put the fish and the marinade in a dish or plastic bag, whichever you like for soaking, and let it soak in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Don’t go too long as citrus will prematurely cook seafood to the detriment of the final taste.

Crush or mince the garlic into one to two teaspoons of oil and dump over the spinach. Mix it up with your hands. What you want to do is wilt the spinach, so it isn’t necessary to stem it before using. If you like the old fashioned way you can wilt the spinach in a skillet or some such. The easy way is to nuke it on high for 2 minutes or so. That works nicely, and it is hard to goof up.

You should have decided ahead whether to grill, use a contact grill, or pan fry. Whatever your choice, it should be ready to go at this point. We like pan fried in a hot skillet with a little olive oil and a little sesame oil for flavor. A nice crust can be had without drying it out if you keep the heat up and the time down to about 3 minutes a side or whatever works for you. If you grill give about 4 minutes a side covered. Toss any leftover marinade. While you cook the fish is really the best time to wilt the spinach if you are using the microwave method.

Serve the fish on a bed of spinach. It doesn’t need anything else, but if you a feeling in a Vietnamese mood serve a little nước chấm (1) (2) on the side.

(1) Discussion of Nước Chấm and Nước Mắm is found HERE.

(2) Another discussion of Nước Chấm and Nước Mắm is found HERE.


Almond Fish

30 September 13
2 fillets delicate white fish
2 Tbs soft butter
2 Tbs finely minced onion
2 Tbs finely minced celery
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
4 grinds fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp sweet paprika
    Almond Sauce
2 Tbs melted butter
2 Tbs slivered blanched almonds
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs parsley flakes

You’ve heard of Trout Amandine – well – this is not it – exactly. The old amandine is a breaded and fried sort of deal. This is broiled and much more delicate. The dredged in flour or whatever and fried is called meunière by the French. It means miller’s wife and is both the way of cooking and a sauce. The cooking is à la meunière. The sauce is just browned butter, chopped parsley, and lemon juice. In other words – Southern fried with lemon butter and parsley. See – it just sounds fancy and elegant in French. Trout Amandine is just trout à la meunière with an almond crusting. Other things that work wonderfully amandine are potatoes, green beans, and asparagus – I’ll write them up one of these days.

Back on topic (maybe) – this will work nicely for just about any delicately flavored fish, either fresh or salt water type. If the fish is frozen just let it thaw about halfway or so. If it is fresh just make sure things are nicely filleted.

Mince the onion and celery. The easy way is to throw it into a small food processor and hit high speed for a minute. Then add the butter, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and paprika to the onion and celery and blend together well. Spread the mix over the fillets and run under a hot broiler, about 4 to 6 inches from the heat. Broil for 10 minutes or until the fish is flaky but do not overcook. You don’t want brown, just done through (barely).

While the oven magic is happening melt the rest of the butter in your small skillet, then brown the almonds. When the butter and almonds are brown but not burned remove from the heat and add the lemon.

Plate the fish, pour the almonds and liquid over them, and garnish with a bit of chopped parsley.

{HERSELF SEZ: I really do prefer a fish that is crispy on the edge – or, in this case, leave mine in a few more minutes – until it is at least just a little browned!}

Dolled-Up Fish

7 December 12

Here are three different ways to treat any fish – but it works better with stronger fish like cod than it does with more delicate species.

All start with seared or sautéed fish – depending on your preference. 


Thyme+Thyme (Photo credit: jimforest)

 1  Tbs  extra-virgin olive oil or unsalted butter or both
 4  (6-ounce) center-cut fish fillets, skin left on
 Salt and freshly ground black pepper
 4  cloves garlic, lightly crushed
 4  sprigs thyme or 1 tsp. dried
 1  Tbs  unsalted butter

—– Fish —–

Lube a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Season the fish with salt and pepper and put them into the pan, skin side down, along with the garlic and thyme. Sear the fillets for 3 minutes, turn them over and sear for 3 minutes more. Lower the heat, add the butter and cook another 3 minutes. Adjust time and temperature as necessary for the thickness and species you have. For searing cook hot and fast – you don’t want it burned but rather seared and dark looking. Sauté – use a lower heat and cook more gently as long as needs be to get the fish done and a nice golden surface.

—– Garnishes —–

You actually want to start the garnish ahead or at the same time as the fish so that the fish does not sit around waiting (and deteriorating!).

Make one of the following:

     —–Bordelaise Garnish—–
 2  Tbs  unsalted butter
 1/2  cup  finely chopped shallots
 12  oz  sliced mushrooms
 2  sprigs  thyme or ½ tsp. dried
 1/2  bottle  dry red wine
 6  sprigs  parsley finely chopped or dried to taste

—–Bordelaise Garnish—–

Lube a large skillet over medium-high heat with the butter. Add the shallots and gently sauté about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and thyme and cook 5 more minutes. Add the wine and boil rapidly until the liquid is reduced by half. Discard the thyme if you used fresh sprigs. One of the small individual serving size bottles they sell in the local groceries works quite well for a half recipe, or two for the full. You don’t want to spill this stuff on your clothes or the tablecloth. You will notice that the wine reduces to a wonderful purple thick sauce that would stain any fabric rather fiercely.


Pour the garnish over plates and top with the fish. Sprinkle parsley to taste.


     —–Dijonnaise Garnish—–
 1-1/2  lbs  carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
 1-1/2  lbs  spinach, washed and stemmed
 1  Tbs  unsalted butter
 Salt and freshly ground white pepper
 —–Coating for Fish—–
 2  Tbs  Dijon mustard
 1  cup  fresh bread crumbs
 2  Tbs  minced chives
 1  Tbs  extra-virgin olive oil
 6  sprigs  parsley finely chopped or dried to taste

—–Dijonnaise Garnish—–

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the carrots and cook for 5 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for 1 minute more; drain well and squeeze the excess water from the spinach. It is ok to use a package of frozen spinach – just thaw and dump it in for a minute (do squeeze the excess water first). Lube a heavy skillet with the butter, heat about medium.  Add the carrots and spinach and season with salt and pepper. Cook until well coated with the butter. Stir fairly often. Keep warm. Frozen spinach is much easier – fresh is prettier and more of a hassle. Take your choice.

A 1-liter glass bottle and bowl Bertolli brand...

A 1-liter glass bottle and bowl Bertolli brand Riserva Premium extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil from Italy, Greece, Spain, and Tunisia, and bottled and packed in Italy. Olive oil purchased in a Stow, Ohio store. Photographed in Kent, Ohio, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Preheat the broiler so it is ready when the fish is ready. Coat the fish with the mustard. Mix the bread crumbs, chives and EVOO and spread or pat to cover the fish. Broil until the bread crumbs are pretty and golden brown. It doesn’t take much – you must remember that the fish is already cooked.


Pour the garnish over plates and top with the fish. Sprinkle parsley to taste.


     —–Lyonnaise Garnish—–
 3  Tbs  extra-virgin olive oil
 1-1/2  lbs  potatoes, peeled and cubed about  1/2”
 1-1/2  lbs  sweet onions, cubed about 1/2”
 Salt and freshly ground pepper
 2  Tbs  red wine vinegar
 6  sprigs  parsley finely chopped or dried to taste

—–Lyonnaise Garnish—–

Lube a heavy skillet with the olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and cook, turning frequently, for 10 minutes. Watch the heat – you don’t want to scorch them. Lower the heat, add the onions, salt and pepper, and cook until the onions are translucent and the potatoes are tender, about 5 to 10 minutes more. Add the vinegar and boil until it has reduced to a thick syrup. Yukon Gold potatoes are good. You can really use any kind you like. You can leave the skins on if that suits your taste – try it both ways and see which you like best.


Pour the garnish over plates and top with the fish. Sprinkle parsley to taste.

Alternate suggestions for plating:

Try warming the plates before serving – it adds a nice touch. (That’s warm – not hot.)

If you are doing a buffet or serving at the table you can pour the garnish over a serving platter and top with all the fillets. Then sprinkle with parsley until it looks nice.

Bagna Cauda – Italian for Hot Bath

12 February 11

There is a false rumor about to the effect that I don’t like Italian food. That is untrue. I do like mostly Northern Italian food. What I don’t like is the overly tomato-ed and heavily pasta-ed Chef Boyardee Americanized junk.

This is about as Northern Italian as it gets. As in from the Piedmont – Northwest top corner of Italy. As in right up at the Alps. Which is logical since this is philosophically related to fondue. In concept, anyway. Who knows how old this stuff is. I suspect that it goes back to ancient times.

I know you never heard of it – but trust me – I wouldn’t mislead you about something as important as food. This is REALLY good stuff.

1/2 cup olive oil plus a little more
6 cloves garlic, minced
12 anchovies preserved in oil, drained
1 stick unsalted butter, chunked

Warm enough olive oil to coat your anchovies. As the oil heats up add the anchovies and mash them with the back of a spoon. When the anchovies are well mashed and dissolved then add the olive oil and garlic and keep whisking until things begin to blend together. Keep the heat low, you want to heat and blend. You do NOT want to fry it at all. When things are nicely together add in the butter a chunk or two at a time whisking the whole way.

Decant into a fondue pot and keep it somewhere between warm and hot, but not hot enough to fry the food you dip in.

That’s all there is to it. Simple ingredients and simple preparation. Traditionally you would eat this stuff only in fall and winter, and eat the vegetables available.

So, think about broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, bell pepper, celery, onions {Herself sez: or even fennel}. Mostly you can cook or serve raw, but the onions need to be cooked. You can roast or boil as you like.

However, what we really like is French bread chunks and sautéed shrimp and scallops. Mushrooms are also good.

Try it – you’ll like it. I mean – how can you possibly go wrong with olive oil, butter, and garlic.

Oh yeah – a word about anchovies. Mostly Americans are exposed to anchovies in pizza or salad and they are not usually the best grade. So many learn to dislike the little fishes. But really, they are quite good to use in your cooking. Anchovies come preserved a couple of ways, salt and oil. The traditional is salt cured and then you soak them for a couple of weeks. Do so if you prefer. But if you do use the salty variety soak the excess salt out or you will think that they are totally horrible. Improperly soaked salt cured is probably why many people learn to hate them. We like the oil preserved variety, just drain them well and go. If your anchovies have not been filleted be sure to remove the backbone. Some of the oil preserved types are rolled around capers. That is fine, just toss the capers.

Another Marinated Tuna

23 December 10

Herself likes this one rather much, so here it is:


1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup wine of choice – dry, hearty red recommended
2 tsp ginger
1/4 cup rough chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs lemon juice


2-4 tuna steaks
olive oil and/or butter for frying

Mix up all the marinade ingredients and pour over the tuna in a plastic zip bag or bowl. Refrigerate for the day or overnight. Make sure the tuna is well covered. If you do a plastic bag get all the air out and you won’t need to turn it much. Otherwise turn a few times during the cooling and soaking phase.

Remove from cooling about an hour before cooking, pour off the liquid and let it come up to room temp.

Lube a fry pan big enough for the tuna and let it hot. Fry for about two minutes per side. What you want is a bit of a char on the outside but the innards to be just warm but not done – rare as it were.

You can serve with pickled ginger and/or wasabi sauce for a Japanese sort of flavor. You can top with steak sauces if you like. Be careful about adding salt as the teriyaki sauce is rather salty (but not as much as soy sauce).

As a variation you can add a tablespoon or two of honey to the mix which changes the character a good bit.

A Nice Supper

20 December 10

Apple-Mustard Mahi-mahi

Something for the taste buds to enjoy. Yes the portions are getting smaller. We Americans eat too much and we are trying to lose some excess weight and still get some taste. I must say these go very nicely with steamed asparagus and mayonnaise.

1 Mahi-mahi fillet
1 Tbs unsalted (sweet) butter
1 Tbs olive oil
salt & pepper – to taste


1/3 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs coarse ground mustard

—--Apple Stuff—–

1/8 cup apple vinegar AND
1/8 cup apple juice OR
1/4 cup apple jack

Salt and pepper the fish fillet to taste. Sauté the fish in olive oil and butter. About 4 minutes per side. Crisp, but not burned. Can be golden brown to almost blackened. Set fish aside and keep warm.

Deglaze the pan with the apple stuff, either vinegar and juice, or apple jack. Add the mustard. Turn the heat up and reduce by half. Turn the heat down a bit, add the cream and stir over heat until the sauce thickens a bit.

Cut the fish in half, one half per person, and pour the sauce evenly.

This is for two people who are trying to lose a bit of weight and still enjoy good food. If you are not trying to lose weight, just figure this per person and you should be about right.

HERSELF SEZ: YUMM! If you add a salad and a couple of veggies, this should still be the right sized portion for those who are NOT trying to lose weight.

Sautéed Red Potatoes
Kind of a nice variation to the hum-drum. Pretty easy too.

3 small Red Potatoes
1 Tbs unsalted butter
1 Tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp dill
salt and pepper – to taste

Do not peel potatoes. Boil the potatoes in salted water for 20 minutes.
Drain and let cool. Then slice about 1/4″ thick.

Mince the garlic. Stir garlic, salt, pepper, parsley, and dill together.

Heat a skillet with olive oil and butter until the butter foams. Do not let the butter turn color. Sauté until golden brown. Turn, and just before cooking is finished sprinkle with the spice mixture. Continue cooking for another 30 seconds to a minute, or until the garlic aroma just begins diffusing.

Delicate Fish and Beurre Blanc

13 October 09

This is a take-off on the traditional French beurre blanc. Now beurre blanc means white butter. Remember classic French cooking:

  1. Do Something
  2. Add butter

And then:

  1. Add butter
  2. Do Something

So – what the traditional beurre blanc does is make a rich reduction sauce out of something acidic and shallots. If we add heavy cream then it becomes a beurre nantais – named for the city of Nantes, located in the Loire-Atlantique area. As in where the Loire river dumps into the Atlantic Ocean. This is really not a big surprise since this whole beurre blanc business is characteristic of (and originates in) the Loire Valley area of France.

Normal method: dump some wine and some shallots in a heavy skillet and reduce over fairly high heat until about half volume and it becomes a bit syrupy. Add some acid – lemon juice or wine vinegar and reduce some more – until syrupy again. If heavy cream is used here is where it is added, heated, whisked and thickened. Off heat add chunks of butter whisking all the while.

You can vary this basic sauce with all kinds of interesting things. Here is a nice one for perking up the taste buds.

—–Marinade and fish:—–

2 fresh limes or about 2 Tbs lime juice
8 (6-ounce) mahi-mahi fillets
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup Tequila or booze of choice
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs butter

—–Orange Beurre Blanc Sauce:—–

1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs very finely chopped fresh
parsley leaves or 1/2 Tbs dried
4 Tbs (1/2 stick) butter, cut into 4 pieces

—–Marinade and fish:—–

You can use lemon juice in the place of the lime if you prefer. Either juice a couple of limes or just use lime juice from a bottle. Mix with the booze of your choice. Lime and tequila is sort of traditional for an Island sort of flavor. You want to use a fairly delicate fish like mahi-mahi, which used to be called dolphon before all the political correctness got out of hand. Tilapia or any other mild flavored fish will do well. Anyway, soak the fish in the marinade in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

—–Orange Beurre Blanc Sauce:—–

About 1/2 hour before you are ready to eat start the beurre blanc. Combine the orange juice and the wine (or white vermouth) in a heavy pan and reduce over high heat, whisking often, until the volume is reduced by half. If you use dried parsley add it in here. Add in the heavy cream and bring up to a low simmer. Whisk often as it reduces and thickens. Whisk in the parsley and set aside while you do the fish. Keep it warm but not hot.

Heat oil and butter until the butter sizzles and begins to color. Sear the fish on one side for about 3 minutes (skin side first if not skinless), turn and sear the other side for about 2 minutes. If the fish is not done turn down the heat and cook gently until done. Set aside while you finish the sauce.

If necessary heat the sauce until it will melt butter. Off heat whisk in the butter one tablespoon at a time. Return to heat briefly as necessary to incorporate all the butter. Too cool and you can’t get the butter to melt and incorporate. Too hot and it will separate. Keep in between the two extremes and your sauce will be wonderful.

Spoon the sauce all fish and serve while it is hot.

A Tasty Potato Spinach Fish Dish –

29 May 08

This is one that can be varied to suit your own taste and needs. Herself gets to making yummy sounds with this one.

1 large potato
1 large skinned salmon fillet
olive oil
vegetable oil
1 box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed or about a pound of fresh, washed, de-stemmed
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp (If cold, just cut it up)
2-3 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons water
3 tsp good mustard, stone ground or German or whole-grain

Cut the ends off the potato and cut thin slices. I usually cut the potato in half lengthwise and use the slicing side of a good grater. You could use a potato peeler if you can get one wide enough for a good-sized potato. I leave the skin on since we like the taste, and most of the nutrition is in the skin anyway.

Salt and pepper the fish to your liking.

Put a good swirl of olive oil into a skillet as though you were going to sauté, you want enough to taste. Add enough neutral tasting vegetable oil to come up somewhere between ¼” and 3/8″. You want to completely cover a layer of potatoes. When the oil is good and hot, shimmering but not smoking, crank down the heat to about medium-high. Put a layer of potatoes in the skillet. Place the fish on top of the potatoes and cook for 4 minutes. You have the right amount of oil if the potatoes are covered and the fish has just enough as though you were going to sauté it. You want the potatoes golden and the fish to be about halfway done the way you like it. Take it out, set the potatoes on some paper towels to drain, put the other half of the potatoes in, put the fish back in uncooked side down, and give it the same amount of time as the first side. Set the potatoes on the paper towel and the fish on a warm plate, tented with aluminum foil.

Drain the skillet except for a thin layer of the oil, add a pat of unsalted butter. When the butter is melted and sizzling but not brown, add the drained and squeezed spinach. Squeezed spinach? Well, yeah. When you thaw a box of frozen spinach, wrap it up in a non-fuzzy tea towel and wring it out. You will be surprised just how much water you will get out. If using fresh stuff, just dump it in. Anyway, sauté it a bit, moving it around to pick up butter/oil flavoring. Just before it is done, sprinkle a bit of kosher or sea salt, and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Don’t overcook the spinach. If fresh, you just want to wilt it nicely. If boxed, just get it good and hot and flavored.

Put the spinach on a plate, then a layer of potatoes, then fish, then the rest of the potatoes on top.

Wipe out the skillet, add in the water, mustard, and lemon juice. Whisk it lightly around and dump in the butter. Keep whisking lightly or just swirl the pan around over the heat. All you really want to do is to melt the butter into the mix. If you overheat the mix it will separate rather than combining. Pour the sauce over and around the spinach/potato/fish mix.

A couple of comments here. Probably a good idea to use heated plates unless you are going to chow down immediately. One good sized fillet, big potato, and box of spinach is enough for two people unless they are outrageously hungry. You don’t really need much of a side with this. Maybe a light salad or some sliced tomatoes. If money is not an object and taste is paramount, forget the veggie oil. Just dump in enough good olive oil to do the job. Lastly, if you want to get really fancy and have humongous potatoes, slice it potato chip thin and completely wrap the potato around the fish. Cook the side with the seam first. It can be really tricky to turn a wrapped fish, so be careful. The taste is no different, but the wrapped fillet presents very nicely.

Be prepared for raves and yummy sounds. Refer to Young Frankenstein for a proper definition of yummy sounds.

Herself Sez: YuuuUUUMMMmmmh! uuuuUUUUMMMMmmmmh! Repeat frequently while eating! These are the proper yummy sounds for this dish – and many others made by the Ol’ Curmudgeon. He’s quite a cook!

How to Steam a Fish –

27 May 08

A Chinese sort of way of cooking a fish is to steam it. Usually they use a wok, and some notched, crossed sticks to hold the steaming platter above the boiling water. This is great, if you have the wok and the sticks. If you don’t, you can fake it with whatever will hold the platter up. I use the same Homey-D quarry tiles that I use to line the oven for baking free-form bread. If you don’t have a wok any pot large enough to hold a plate with an inch or two clearance will work just fine. A domed lid is better than a flat lid so that the condensate will run down the sides and not drip onto the platter.

Any white fish can be done this way, we like tilapia.

A leaf of Romaine or Nappa cabbage or whatever as a bed for each loin
Some chopped onion on top of the green leaf
A fish loin or filet per leaf
Sliced mushrooms on top of each fish

1/4 cup of soy sauce
1/8 cup water
small clove of garlic per fish, chopped
either some chopped fresh ginger or a pinch of dried ginger
about 5 grinds of pepper

Mix all the sauce and drizzle over the fish. Sprinkle chopped green onion over the filets. Put the platter over the boiling water, cover, and let steam for 20 minutes.

Herself Sez: I was never enthusiastic about fish. Oh I would eat it, but I wouldn’t willingly, and spontaneously order it, say, at a restaurant – except at a Japanese restaurant with a really good sushi chef!! Food of the divine!!

Well, Himself laid this little darlin’ of a dish down before me and I melted!! WOW! Fish that didn’t make me sick!! Please, sir, may I have – More?!

Sweet and Tart Glazed Salmon –

4 March 08

This is pretty easy and quite tasty. This will serve two – just increase the proportions as needed for more people.Make up the glaze:

2 Tbs brown sugar
1-1/2 Tbs honey
1 Tbs butter
2 Tbs spicy mustard
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp ground ginger
salt and pepper to taste
2 salmon fillets

Mix up the glaze in a small saucepan, heat and stir until thoroughly hot and blended. Set aside to cool to room temp.

Brush the fillets with the glaze, skin side down, and broil for about 4 minutes. Flip over and brush the skin side with the glaze. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes, don’t burn it. Flip back over and coat with the rest of the glaze and broil for 1 to 2 minutes – the glaze should bubble and brown, but not burn. If the fillets are very fresh you can reduce the cooking time by a minute or two.

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