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There’s Something Fishy Going On Here


FOOD FOR THOUGHT - January 19, 2005 - Mark R. Vogel - [email protected] - Archive

(Recipes below)
“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.  And for those of you non-anglers who procure your fish at a market, you’ll need to know how to select your fish as well.

Fish are divided into two broad categories, fish and shellfish, which I amusingly refer to as “swimmy” fish and “crawly” fish. Our current discussion will focus on the former.  Swimmy fish are further subdivided into flatfish and roundfish. Flatfish are shaped like a flat oval and swim horizontally along the sea floor.  Both their eyes are on top of their head. You can obtain four fillets from a flatfish. Roundfish have a rounder body with an eye on each side of their head and yield two fillets, one from each side. 

     Fish also vary on their fat content.  Generally speaking, the higher the fat content the darker the flesh. Very lean fish include red snapper, sea bass, flounder, 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.

     Fish deteriorate rapidly and you must be very picky when selecting them.  Fresh fish should not smell fishy.  If it has anything beyond a mild aroma of the ocean do not buy it. The eyes should be clear, the gills bright red, the skin moist, and the flesh firm.  When you press the flesh it should spring back.  If it has been gutted check the belly to ensure it is free of browning.  If the entails were not removed promptly, enzymes in the stomach can begin to disintegrate the flesh.

     Fish can be stored for up to two days but I strongly recommend using it within one day. Ideally it should be consumed the same day you buy it.  Whole, gutted fish should be stored in flaked ice.  Make sure you fill the body cavity as well.  Flaked ice conforms to the shape of the fish better than cubed ice and is less likely to bruise the flesh.  Place the iced fish in a perforated pan inside another pan to catch the melting ice and then into the refrigerator. Fillets should be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.

     The general rule of thumb for cooking fish is thus: Lean, white flesh fish is best suited to poaching, saut√©ing, 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.





    · 8 new potatoes quartered, skin on
    · 1 yellow squash, cut into half inch slices
    · 1 zucchini, cut into half inch slices
    · Olive oil as needed
    · 1 clove garlic, minced
    · Half cup dry white wine
    · Juice of 2 lemons
    · 1 and a half cups chicken stock
    · Salt and pepper to taste
    ¬∑ 1 bell pepper (any color), roasted, peeled, seeded, and cut into ¬∑ ¬ľ inch strips
    · 1 bunch of chives, chopped
    · 1 bunch of tarragon, chopped
    ¬∑ 4  Red snapper fillets, skin on, 5 oz each


Saut√© the potatoes, squash, and zucchini, in olive oil for 4 minutes. Add the garlic and saut√© one more minute. Add the wine, lemon juice, stock, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.  Add the bell pepper about five minutes before the vegetables are done and the chives and tarragon one minute before.

Season both sides of the snapper fillets with salt and pepper.  Heat another skillet with olive oil and sear the snapper, skin side down, for three minutes or until crisp. Flip it and saut√© for another five minutes or until the fish reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees.  Place the stewed vegetables in a bowl with the fish fillets on top.



    · 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
    · 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
    · 1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
    · Half teaspoon wasabi powder
    · Salt and pepper to taste
    · 2 8-oz. tuna steaks
    · Sesame oil as needed


Grind the coriander and mustard seeds in a spice grinder and then combine with the lemon-pepper seasoning and wasabi powder.

Brush the tuna steaks with sesame oil and then sprinkle with the seasoning mix and salt and pepper. 

Heat a non-stick skillet and then add some sesame oil. Make sure the skillet and oil are very hot.  Add the tuna steaks and sear each side until desired doneness.  This will vary with the thickness of the steak and how red you like it in the center.  If the steak is thicker than a half-inch and you like it rare, you won’t need more than two minutes a side.

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