Category Archives: Fish

Tilapia

Tilapia is a wonder food. Mild, adaptable, and plentiful, it cooks quickly and can be prepared in a variety of ways. My favorite method (and it’s the quickest) is to steam over low heat in a covered skillet. No oil, no batter, no breading…just a few seasonings like lemon pepper and/or garlic salt. Even frozen, it’s done within 10-15 minutes. Fresh cooks faster. When preparing a meal, I typically cook my tilapia last. I don’t want to risk overcooking it, and I certainly don’t want to serve it cold.

When you shop for tilapia, keep in mind the recommendations of the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. Buy farmed-in-USA if available. Aquaculture is suited to the tilapia, making it a sustainable fish. If USA isn’t available, buy from Costa Rica, Equador, Honduras, or Brazil farms. Do not buy tilapia farmed in China or Taiwan! (For more information, consult the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Watch List.)

Tilapia is not a new fish. It’s most plentiful in Africa and the Middle East and is believed to be the fish Saint Peter caught. In the miracle of the loaves and fishes (Matthew 14:15-21) Jesus served the crowd of 5,000 from two tilapia and five loaves of bread. Bible scholars also believe tilapia was abundant in the Sea of Galilee (Lake of Tiberius) and would’ve been the fish Jesus served his disciples when He revealed Himself after the resurrection. That’s why some refer to tilapia as either Jesus’ fish or Saint Peter’s fish. 

All I know is it’s delicious and nutritious, perfect for a Hasty Tasty Meal!

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Easy Grilled Salmon

The best meals are often the simplest. Take grilled salmon, for example. When my husband and I want to splurge on a meal to celebrate, we browse the seafood counter at Publix and select something extravagant. We’re still paying only half what the meal would cost in a restaurant, and that’s not including tips or cocktails. ☺

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RECIPE

Grilled Salmon Fillets for Two

Ingredients:

  • 2 salmon fillets, approximately 5-6 ounces each
  • 1 zucchini squash cut into ribbons (I use my SpiraLife)
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • ¼ sweet onion, julienned
  • 1 sweet pepper, julienned
  • 1 Tbsp. Herbes de Provence
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • (optional) fresh basil sprigs

Directions:

  1. Place zucchini, onion, and pepper in a small (1-quart) saucepan over low heat. If you aren’t using waterless cookware, be sure to add at least a Tbsp. water. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook 10-15 minutes.
  2. Preheat cast iron grill pan over medium heat.
  3. Combine olive oil, herbs, garlic, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Rub both sides of each fillet.
  4. Place fillets in preheated grill pan and immediately lower heat. Position the thinner portions of each fillet toward the edge of the pan, farther from the center of heat source to avoid overcooking. Time for five minutes.
  5. Carefully turn each fillet using a spatula. Time for an additional five minutes.
  6. After five minutes, check the thickest part of the salmon for doneness. Do not overcook. If the fish has turned a lighter shade of pink, immediately remove pan from heat. If the middle appears raw, cook for a couple minutes more, taking care not to overcook the salmon.
  7. Remove zucchini mixture from heat. Using tongs, divide the vegetable noodles and place on two plates.
  8. Plate the salmon beside the “noodles.” Garnish with a sprig of fresh basil if desired. Serve immediately with your choice of roll and beverage.

I recommend buying wild caught in USA salmon rather than farm-raised.

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Crispy Fried Fish

You don’t have to deep-fry fish to get a crunchy coating. I pan fried catfish fillets in just one tablespoon of safflower oil, and my family gave me rave reviews. Crispy without tasting greasy, this method also works on chicken tenders. 

RECIPE

 Crispy Fried Fish

Serves 4

 Ingredients:

  • 4 4-5 oz. fillets of catfish or any firm white fish
  • 1 Tbsp. safflower oil
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. grated cheese (I use Parmesan, but cheddar works, too)
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper

 

Directions:

  • Preheat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  • Salt and pepper the fish.
  • Beat one egg. Set up a breading station with flour, egg wash, and bread crumbs.
  • Mix the cheese in with the bread crumbs.
  • Add oil to the skillet.
  • Dredge fish fillets in flour first, then egg wash, then bread crumbs/cheese mixture. Be sure fish is covered thoroughly.
  • Place each fillet in the hot oil. Do not move. Cook, uncovered for at least five minutes or until fish browns along the edges.
  • Carefully turn each fillet and cook an additional 5 minutes.
  • Plate and serve immediately.
Fried fish doesn't have to be greasy!

Fried fish doesn’t have to be greasy!

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A Pantry Staple: Salmon Croquettes

Stuck for a hasty, tasty, and healthful entree? My standby is salmon croquettes. I keep a couple of cans of premium wild Alaskan pink salmon in my pantry. Similar to crab cakes, croquettes are nutritious and also a good way to stretch your grocery dollars.

I learned to make salmon croquettes when I was 18. My recipe and method has changed little through the years. Here it is:

RECIPE

Salmon Croquettes

Serves Three

Ingredients:

  • 1 14.75 oz. can salmon
  • 8-10 saltines, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped sweet pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • nonstick cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Drain canned salmon of liquid. Bones are optional–leave them in or remove them. (I usually pull them out and eat them before I cook).
  2. Combine drained salmon, crushed saltines, onion, pepper, and egg in a 1 quart bowl or measuring pitcher.
  3. Preheat a large cast iron skillet (or a stainless steel griddle) over medium.
  4. Using your hands, form 9 or 10 small patties of the salmon mixture.
  5. Spray skillet with cooking spray.
  6. Carefully brown both sides of the croquettes, turning them once after about five minutes. (If too browned, reduce heat).
  7. Serve with your choice of vegetables.

 

Salmon croquettes served with steamed broccoli and herbed carrots.

Salmon croquettes served with steamed broccoli and herbed carrots.

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Crazy for Catfish

Once maligned as a bottom feeder, catfish has emerged as a popular entrée. It’s farmed in the U.S.A. and is sustainable, unlike many farmed varieties of fish. Catfish is a bottom feeder, true, but it does well in crowded ponds. If you’re interested in eating sustainable foods but you’re on a budget, you’re in luck. Catfish is affordable, tasty, and sturdy. It stands up well to a variety of cooking methods. We eat it blackened, baked, pan fried, steamed, even deep fried occasionally. (A word of caution: wild caught catfish can taste strong and fishy, so stick with farm raised.)

Catfish is on sale this week, so I bought two small fillets. It’s important to buy only what you’ll use within 24 hours. Fresh fish is best, but frozen catfish is very good. Just be sure it’s raised in the U.S.A. Asian catfish is a different species, and it’s not as tasty. Also, because catfish is a bottom feeder, you want to be extra careful of its source. You’ll find raised-in-USA frozen catfish fillets even at the big box stores. It’s convenient to have fish on hand in your freezer.

Today I’m pan frying it. It’s not difficult but it is tasty! No wonder it’s a Southern favorite.

RECIPE

Pan Fried Buttermilk Catfish

Ingredients:

  • 2 small catfish fillets (4-6 oz. each)
  • 1 Tbsp. safflower oil or peanut oil (or neutral taste oil of your choice)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup cornmeal or a mix of ½ cup cornmeal and ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Soak catfish in buttermilk for 10 minutes, max.
  • Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.
  • Season corn meal with salt and pepper. Mix to combine.
  • Dredge each catfish fillet in the corn meal.
  • Place each fillet in the skillet and cook for approximately 5 minutes. Turn. If fish sticks to pan, wait at least another minute to turn.
  • Cook 4-5 minutes on the second side.
  • Plate and serve immediately.

Serves two. Serve with steamed vegetables, cheese grits, and a whole grain roll.

Catfish is versatile, flavorful, and good for you. Give it a try.

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HASTY TASTY PAELLA UNDER PRESSURE

Pressure Cooker

Paella is one of those wonderful one-pot meals with peasant origins. Traditionally, paella was cooked over an open fire in the fields when workers took a break for lunch. The ingredients depended on what was available and could include everything from chicken to rabbit. Coastal areas of Spain popularized the addition of seafood, again whatever catch was available.

The most expensive ingredient is the saffron, yet I know of no suitable substitution. The good news is a little bit of saffron goes a long way and stores well in your refrigerator.

Paella can be a healthful dish, but the recipes I found were time consuming. Not to be discouraged, I experimented with ways to serve paella with minimal fuss. My hasty tasty version of paella uses a 6-quart pressure cooker and mostly frozen ingredients. From start to finish, the meal takes just about half an hour to cook.

RECIPE

 Hasty Tasty Paella

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice¹
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1½ cups frozen pepper stir-fry
  • 1 ¾ cups chicken stock or broth
  • 6-8 saffron threads
  • 1 Tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • ½ pound frozen shrimp, cleaned and shelled
  • ½ pound frozen sea scallops
  • ½ cup frozen peas or mixed vegetables
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

  1. Brown the rice in the olive oil over medium heat in the bottom of the pressure cooker pot.
  2. After rice is browned, add the pepper stir-fry, broth, saffron, paprika, and chicken. Secure lid and bring to pressure.
  3. Cook under pressure 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the cooker from heat and allow pressure to drop on its own for 10 minutes. Then carefully release pressure and remove the lid according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. Remove the chicken to a cutting board for slicing. Fluff the rice with a fork.
  6. Return cooker to medium heat and add remaining ingredients. Cook just until seafood is cooked, approximately 5 minutes or until shrimp is pink.
  7. Remove cooker immediately from heat and stir in sliced chicken. Transfer paella to a large shallow serving bowl or individual bowls and serve.

Yield: 4 generous servings

¹Do not substitute white or yellow rice for brown rice. Anything other than brown rice will overcook.

Variation: Use fish or mussels instead of or in addition to the shrimp and scallops.

Paella

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Fast Food Can Be Healthful, too

By special request, here is an encore of a post from last year.

Wild Alaskan Salmon

Thaw salmon and season lightly

With quality cookware and ingredients, a supercharged healthy meal is less than half an hour away. On the menu: wild Alaskan salmon fillets, steamed broccoli with red bell pepper, and steamed butternut squash. The food is high in nutrients and antioxidents, especially if it’s not overcooked. I prefer steaming over low heat. More of a technique than a recipe, here is how to have a great and easy meal in a short time.

What you’ll need to make dinner for four: Four salmon fillets, two large bunches of broccoli, one red bell pepper, one medium butternut squash, Butter Buds or Molly McButter, and pumpkin pie spice mix.

Salmon: Be sure to buy wild Alaskan salmon. It may be pricey but it’s worth it, both in nutrition and taste. If frozen, thaw in the refrigerator before cooking. Place fillets in a dry, preheated skillet–skin side down. Sprinkle lightly with pumpkin pie spice. Cover, reduce heat to its lowest setting, and cook for fifteen minutes. Do not lift the lid to peek. Serve salmon with…

Butternut Squash: Rich in beta carotine, butternut squash often is overlooked. It doesn’t need butter, salt, or much of anything to season it. It’s tasty on its own.  To serve four, buy a medium size Butternut squash.

I cut the squash into long strips and scrape away the seeds. Then using the Kitchen Cutter and #1 cone, I grate the squash (you can use a hand grater or food processor if you don’t own a Kitchen Cutter). Steam the grated squash in a 1-quart covered sauce pan over low heat. As with the salmon, don’t lift the lid. As soon as the lid spins, turn off the heat and leave covered for about ten minutes. The cooked squash will be the consistency of mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice (Tying the flavor with the salmon) and stir.

The broccoli and red bell pepper make a colorful dish, rich in vitamins and fiber.  Wash one red bell pepper and enough broccoli flowerets to feed four. Julienne the pepper. Steam with broccoli in a covered two-quart sauce pan over low heat. As soon as the lid spins, turn off heat and leave covered for fifteen minutes for crisper vegetables, twenty for more tender. Sprinkle with Butter Buds or Molly McButter and serve.

Quality Cookware

Steam in covered pans over low heat

The three dishes take only about thirty minutes including prep time. Because the food is steamed over low heat, the pans come clean easily.  The food is delicious without a lot of additives or salt, and it’s figure-friendly.
Dinner!

Colorful and delicious.

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