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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thursday Recipe - Fish ideas and Mango Salsa

I had a friend ask me how to cook fish this week. That started me thinking. Fish is healthy, fish is good for you, and most people don't like fish. It can be tricky to cook. Overcooked fish is rubbery and nasty. Old fish tastes fishy and not in a pleasant way. So here are my suggestions and recommendations for cooking fish.

Buying fish: I live in Utah, nowhere near the oceans or commercial fisheries. My best bet to get great fish is to buy the individually packaged, flash frozen fillets. Tilapia is a great fish - firm so it holds up well to most cooking techniques, mild flavored so you can season it any way you want. Salmon is good, but it can be expensive. I wait until the stores run specials or I look for the flash frozen fillets. Salmon has a much stronger taste than tilapia. There are lots of other varieties of fish, but those are the two I usually buy.

Ways to cook fish:

Breaded and deep fried - go to your local fast food place that sells fish fillets. It's really the best way to get good tasting fried fish.

Pan fried - This is my favorite way. It's fast, easy, and healthy.

Melt 1 t. butter in a non-stick frying pan on medium heat. Add a frozen fish fillet. Yes, I said frozen. Don't bother thawing it more than needed to get it out of the packaging. Sprinkle with your choice of seasoning. Cook for 3-5 minutes, just until fish starts to turn opaque around the edges. Turn fillet over, cook another 2-4 minutes until fish flakes easily. If the fillet is thick, it may take longer. If it is a thin fillet, it may take a lot less time. You want the seasonings to brown just slightly. If you are cooking fish with skin, like salmon, you can cook the skin side longer until it starts to crisp on the edges.

Seasoning ideas:

Lemon pepper - sprinkle with 1/2 - 1 t. of lemon pepper seasoning
Curry - sprinkle with 1/2 t. curry powder, add salt and pepper to taste
Dill - sprinkle with 1/2 t. dill weed, 1 t. lemon juice, and salt to taste
Caraway - sprinkle fish with 1/4 t. caraway seeds and salt to taste. Serve with sticky rice and mandarin oranges (salmon is great with this)

When seasoning fish, remember that most fish is very mild in flavor. Sniff the spice or herb you want to try. If it smells like it would go, try a little. If the flavor works, you can make it stronger by adding more of the seasoning. Stronger flavored fish like salmon can stand up to spicier seasonings.

One of my favorite ways to eat fish is with Mango Salsa. Cook the fish with just salt and pepper. Serve it with the fruit salsa over the top.

Mango Salso

2 ripe mangoes, peeled and chopped into tiny bits
1/4 c. red onion, minced small
1 T. rice vinegar or white vinegar
1 green bell pepper, chopped small
1 t. salt
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. chili powder
1 t. dried parsley

Mix onion and vinegar in bowl. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. Add everything else. Stir gently to mix. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to blend flavors. Makes about 2 cups of salsa.

Fresh pineapple can be substituted for the mangoes if you prefer.

If you like it, you can add chopped fresh cilantro to the salsa.

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