When at the fish market we are presented with all sort of choices of fish and shellfish it could be intimidating, very intimidating.
But it can be done. After all it’s only one at the time, not the all display of [sometimes] still moving fish. All is needed is some order.
Fish Steamed/boiled in Court Bouillon
This method is a relatively easy one, but it is important to make it inviting, not bland and unappetizing like an hospital meal.
The best thing is to prepare a “court-bouillon,” which aside from the chic-French name its nothing more than a “vegetable stock”.
To make a court-bouillon you need about 2 litres of water, add:
• half a carrot cut in chunks
• a little onion cut in rings
• a celery stalk
• half a glass of white wine
• pepper in grain
Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes, put aside and then filter it.
At this point with your fish of choice—which your favorite fishmonger has dutifully cleaned it for you 🙂 —in a large pan/casserole add the court bouillon COLD, and bring it to a boil, simmer for 10 minutes for each lb of fish. Once done, it can be served with lemon and olive oil, or with your favorite sauce (I don’t mind some mayo!)
Baked, an Eye to the Temperature!
Baking fish is a good choice for “important” fish such as sea bass, or branzino, but a little care will go a long way, but not everything is so obvious.
Oven temperatures need not to be too low, or your fish will look like “boiled” fish; but not too high either, which would risk drying the meat too much and ruining everything.
The 390F temperature is a good compromise, provided the fish is well prepared, as:
• Cleaned properly (I won’t buy it unless they clean it for me)
• Wash it thoroughly, both outside and inside
• Dry it very well with kitchen paper
Once this is done, it is very important to sprinkle the fish with extra virgin olive oil (the ideal would be to massage the oil all over the surface, so that it does not slip away in the pan), and then salt and pepper it inside and out.
To facilitate the penetration of heat, before putting the fish in the oven (which must be already hot to avoid the “boiled” effect) make two or three cuts on the sides, and the result will be perfect!
Grilled, Not all the Fish is Good Grilled
Cooking grilled fish is a great way to make the most of it, but as long as you choose the right fish! The ideal fish for the grill is the most fat one so it won’t dry out too much during cooking. Among the most valued types of fish to be grilled we have:
• Sardines, mackerel, herrings
• Lobsters and Co.
However, cuttlefish, octopus and squid, can all be grilled, but only if they are small and grilled for a very short time, otherwise they become chewy and inedible.
As for the whole fish, assuming they are already cleaned by our favorite fishmonger, who will take care of not “descale” your fish, since you need the scales because will form a protective barrier from burning and, once the fish is cooked, it will easier to remove them, with skin and everything.
One last recommendation: cooking grilled fish does not mean “flambé”, so try to avoid the seasonings while grillling causing flames that could ruin the final result.
Now that you know more or less everything, all that remains is to wish you good work and, above all, enjoy your meal! 🙂