photo courtesy of Microstock Photography
It's a funny saying and it's a funny thing. You expect fish to smell fishy, right? Why else would that be the saying? In truth, fish doesn't really smell fishy. Fresh, good fish barely smells at all. It is when fish gets old, beyond the point of being fresh and delicious, that it smells fishy. So, if you sense that strong fishy odor, you can pretty much guarantee that the fish is beyond it's best "use by" date. Most of the people who say they don't like fish - they haven't had GOOD fish. FRESH fish. LOCAL fish. It's key. I have gotten more than one "I don't like fish" person to eat fish and enjoy it just by using good fish. That is really all it takes.
So, here's the thing about fish: it's delicious. It can also be incredibly easy to prepare. The trick (start broken record sound here) = you have to get fresh fish. There are certainly some limitations depending on where you live, I get it, but just like so many other foods, buying local is incredibly important. Your area national chain grocery store is not going to have fish fresh off the boat. Chances are, any fish you buy from the grocery store will have been "previously frozen". They just defrost it before putting it out in the case so you think it's fresh. It's not. Find a great, local fish store that gets their fish fresh from the docks. You will be amazed at the difference. And I'm sure I don't have to tell you how healthy fish can be for you, right? If you haven't heard it by now, you probably live under a rock...or under the sea (song stuck in your head yet?).
Don't be intimidated by cooking fish. It's actually quite simple and the better the fish, the less work you have to do. A quick broil or grill and you're done. I like to use a quick glaze in the final minutes or a sauce you can toss together and serve on the side. Another easy option (to be featured in future blog installments) is doing it "en papillote" - this is a fancy way of say in a packet - where you just toss the fish and a few other ingredients on some parchment paper, wrap it up into a little packet, and let it cook while all the delicious flavors find each other.
Today's fish will be salmon. Yes, salmon. You have probably suffered through a bad piece of fishy, dry, not-so-good salmon. It's prevalence on menus in recent years and as the fish option at every banquet-type event has earned salmon a bad and over-used reputation. Salmon is healthy, delicious, and one of the quickest and easiest fishes to prepare at home. I actually went through a phase where the last thing I wanted to eat was salmon. I finally caved and made some at home. It was seriously quick (about 15-20 minutes to make the whole meal) and very good. I try to buy it more often now (gotta get those omega-3s, right?). Below is my go-to salmon meal. I always feel pretty good about myself after eating it. It's good, it's good for me, and I didn't have to slave away in the kitchen for a long time.
Broiled Salmon with Lemon Dill Yogurt Sauce
served with Garlic-Ginger Green Beans and Brown Rice
Broiled Salmon with Lemon Dill Yogurt Sauce
- Salmon cut into portions (about 3-4 oz per person)*
- Olive oil
- Salt & Pepper (optional)
Turn the broiler on high. Lightly coat salmon in olive oil (add salt and pepper, if you like)
Place the salmon on the broiler pan. Cook 4 minutes. Turn over. Cook 4 minutes. Done.
* Skin on or skin off - it's up to you. I like to cook it skin on and tend to remove the skin before serving.
For the Lemon Dill Yogurt Sauce (serves 2-4):
- 1 cup Greek yogurt (I like Fage 2%) - can also substitute sour cream
- Fresh dill - chopped
- Fresh-squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)*
- Salt & Pepper
Mix all ingredients together. I start with about a tablespoon each of the dill and the lemon and then add more to taste. I like a lot of both!
*Juicing a lemon tip: If your lemons are refrigerated - pop it in the microwave for about 25 seconds. Then roll on the cutting board with the palm of your hand before slicing and juicing. Much easier to get the juice out.
For a quick meal like this, I go with very simple sides. The salmon is rich, the sauce is flavorful - you don't need a lot to complement it. I tend to go with a brown rice and I use the oh-so-quick-and-easy boil-in-a-bag rice. Boil water. Add bag of rice. 10 minutes later = done. I use a very simple veggie side of steamed (or boiled) green beans quickly sautéed for a little extra flavor.
Garlic-Ginger Green Beans
- Fresh green beans or haricot verts
- 1 tsp minced Garlic
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 1 Tbsp. Olive oil
- Salt and Pepper
Steam or boil the green beans. You want them bright green and still on the crisp side. I steam for about 5-6 minutes or boil for about 4 minutes. Either option is fine.
Heat olive oil in saute pan over medium-high. Add garlic, ginger, and beans. Add salt and pepper while cooking (optional). Stir and saute until the beans start to show a little color and the garlic and ginger have softened. Done.
How to do it all:
Reading all of these recipes and things to cook might have your mind spinning a little bit. Once you get a system going, it goes really fast and easy. I use two timers so I don't lose track of the fish!
- Turn on the stove to preheat the broiler and fill your pots for boiling and/or steaming and get those on the stove and heating up.
- Do your prep work! I am a huge fan of "mise en place"- or everything in place. Mince your garlic and ginger (or get out your jars or tubes if you like the shortcut-prepared kind). Chop the dill. Juice the lemon. Have them all prepared and ready to go for when you are ready to add them in.
- Mix together yogurt sauce and set aside.
- Water should be boiling by now - drop in the rice - set timer #1 for 10 minutes.
- Put green beans in steamer/pot for boiling & fish in the oven - set timer #2 for 4 minutes.
- Heat up saute pan and olive oil.
- At first timer, flip the fish, return to oven - set timer #2 for 4 minutes.
- Remove green beans from heat (drain, if boiled). Add to saute pan with garlic and ginger.
- Your food will all start to be ready in pretty quick succession. Pull each from the heat as they are done. Make sure to pull the fish when it is ready so it doesn't dry out.
- Serve! If you are feeling fancy - save some dill sprigs to decorate the plate.