Fish is a great low-fat protein choice that is a healthful and delicious addition to your diet. Selecting the freshest fish is the first step in achieving good results. If you can, purchase your fish from a reputable source, such as a fishmonger, who can assist you in making the best choice. And, if possible, smell your fish prior to purchasing, as this is the very best way to determine freshness. Look for no odor or just a slight sea smell. If the fish has an off odor or ammonia smell, pass on it and keep looking.
Cooking your fish to perfection is the second step in achieving good results. The general rule of thumb, no matter the cooking method, is that fish needs to be cooked for ten minutes per inch of thickness. Use the ten-minute rule as your guide, but check your fish as it is cooking. Your fish will be perfectly cooked when it still has a slight opaque appearance, and the flesh flakes easily with a fork.
Basic Baked Fish
1 piece of cod, haddock, scrod, or any in-season, firm-fleshed white fish (about 4 to 6 ounces) per person (do not use a thin fillet such as flounder or sole for this cooking method)
Salt and pepper
Olive oil (opt for best quality in this recipe)
Optional garnish: chopped fresh parsley, squeeze of lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 400˚F.
- Rinse and pat dry the fish fillet, and check carefully for any bones that your fishmonger may have missed.
- Season the fish fillet well with salt and pepper.
- Drizzle and spread 1/4 teaspoon of olive oil on the bottom of a baking dish, lay the fish fillet on top, and then drizzle with another 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of olive oil.
- Cook the fish until it flakes with a fork and is still slightly opaque in the center, about 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet. Measure your fish fillet at its thickest point to gauge cooking time. Be careful not to overcook the fish.
- Optional garnish: top fish fillets with chopped fresh parsley (or another herb of your choice) and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- Basic Baked Fish with Salsa. Serve your fish fillet with your favorite salsa.
- Baked Fish with Toasted Almond Slivers. While the fish fillet is cooking, heat a handful of almond slivers in a dry sauté pan over medium heat until nicely fragrant and slightly toasted. Serve almond slivers on top of the fish fillet.
- Baked Fish with Capers and Lemon. Add 1 tablespoon of capers and a good squeeze of lemon juice on top of the fish fillet before cooking.
No one likes to find a fish bone floating in their mouth mid-dinner. Before cooking any fish, lightly run your hands over the entire fillet. If you do happen to find bones, tweezers make an awesome removal tool.
If you eat animal protein, fish is an important part of your diet. Fish is a low-calorie, low-fat, protein-rich healthy food addition to a healthful life. High in vitamins A, B, and D, fish is also high in omega-3, a fat proven to help lower high cholesterol levels.
Cultivate a relationship with your local fishmonger. He or she can be an invaluable resource in guiding you to the freshest, locally sourced fish, which always gives you better options for both your health and also the environment. Don’t be afraid to ask about their favorite cooking preparations. Fishmongers truly understand different fish types and how each reacts to different cooking methods. Don’t be surprised if you leave your fish market with a great new recipe!