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“Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime,” asserts an old Chinese proverb.
Well, not quite. There’s one more step. You also have to teach the man how to cook the fish.
The general rule of thumb for cooking fish is: Lean, white flesh fish is best suited to poaching, sauting, pan frying and deep frying; fatty fish is best with dry cooking methods such as grilling and broiling, and moderately fatty fish is amenable to most cooking methods with the possible exception of deep frying.
Generally speaking, the higher the fat content the darker the flesh. Very lean fish include red snapper, sea bass, flounder, halibut, tilapia and cod; moderately fat fish include striped bass, swordfish and Atlantic salmon; and high fat fish include eel, mackerel and bluefish.
All fish are high in protein, B vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium and phosphorous.
Cod fish trivia
Norwegian scientists attract young cod to feeding sites by playing recordings of tuba music underwater.
The Portuguese claim to have 365 ways of preparing dried salt cod, one for each day of the year.
About 10 percent of the world fish catch is cod.
Codfish live to an average of 15 years or so. You can tell a cod’s age from the two white earstones in the skull, which have annual growth rings.
Be sure to serve this one-pot dinner with lots of crusty bread for dipping in the anise-scented beef broth. If you don’t have halibut, use and other firm, white fish.
2 cups thinly sliced fennel bulb (about 6 oz.)
2 cups beef broth
2-3 cups small red potatoes, halved
8 oz. baby carrots
1 Tbsps. minced garlic
4 (6-oz.) halibut fillets
1 tsp. paprika
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
4 lemon wedges
Combine fennel, potatoes, carrots, garlic and broth in a large nonstick skillet; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.
Sprinkle both sides of fish with paprika, salt and pepper. Add fish to skillet and then sprinkle with thyme; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 6 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Serve with lemon wedges. Makes 4 servings.
Spanish Style Halibut with Wilted Spinach and Bacon
Smoked paprika contrasts nicely with the sweet halibut. If you can’t find fresh halibut fillets, substitute another firm white fish, like orange roughy. Serve with herbed couscous or basmati rice.
3 slices applewood-smoked bacon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. black pepper
4 (6-oz.) skinless halibut fillets
2 tsps. minced garlic
2 Tbsps. lemon juice
1 (12-oz.) pkg. fresh baby spinach
Using a large nonstick skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and let cool; crumble. Set aside.
Combine salt, smoked paprika and black pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle spice mixture evenly over both sides of fish. Add fish to drippings in pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Remove fish from pan and keep warm.
Add garlic to hot pan and cook for one minute, stirring frequently. Stir in crumbled bacon. Add spinach to pan and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until the spinach begins to wilt; mix well. Serve with fish and rice. Makes 4 servings.
Cod Poached in Tomatoes, Wine and Capers
Serve a one-dish dinner of fish in a Mediterranean-inspired sauce. Serve over wild rice along with a simple green salad. Flounder, sole or tilapia can be substituted.
1 Tbsps. olive oil
1-1/2 tsps. minced garlic
1 cup dry, white wine
2 Tbsps. capers
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
4 (6-oz.) cod fillets
10 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; saut 1 minute or until lightly browned. Add wine, capers, crushed pepper, tomatoes and herbs; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes.
Add fish; cover and simmer 5 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Place fillet on top of rice, and then spoon tomato sauce over it. Top with kalamata olives. Makes 4 servings.
Spicy Tilapia with Pineapple Pepper Relish
Fresh pineapple relish is made with pineapples, plum tomatoes, onion, rice vinegar, jalapeo pepper and cilantro. Serve with coconut rice (use coconut milk for some of the water to cook it). Round out the menu with a romaine lettuce salad tossed with lime dressing.
2 tsps. olive oil
2 tsps. Cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground red pepper
4 (6-oz.) tilapia fillets
1-1/2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped plum tomato
2 Tbsps. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 small jalapeo pepper, seeded and chopped
4 lime wedges
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Combine Cajun seasoning, salt and red pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle fish on both sides evenly with spice mixture.
Add fish to pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.
Combine pineapple, plum tomatoes, onion, rice vinegar, jalapeo pepper and cilantro in a large bowl, stirring gently. Serve pineapple mixture over fish. Garnish with lime wedges. Makes 4 servings.
Norm Harding is a cooking columnist for the Beacon. To send him recipes, e-mail him at email@example.com.