Fishing season has opened - oh, happy day for those fishermen out there who firmly believe what Mark Twain believed - the days spent fishing were not deducted from man's allotted life span.
But for those who are not fishermen and who really enjoy a good fish dinner, there are those fish markets out there. Fish is best when cooked on the day you buy it.
If, however, you want to keep it for a day or two, rinse the fish, dry it with paper towels and wrap it in plastic. Then put the fish in a colander set over a shallow pan and cover it with crushed ice. It will stay cold enough to slow its decline and the pan will collect the water as the ice melts. Or, keep the fish in the coldest part of the refrigerator. It's a good idea to rinse the fish and dry it again after a day.
When buying fish, choose for freshness. Fresh fish gleams. In the store, it should be resting on a cooling bed of crushed ice and the smell should be sweet, clean, and, for sea fish, briny - never fishy.
We all are familiar with trout, salmon, cod, red snapper, lingcod - be adventurous and try some of the not-so-familiar fish, such as -
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin or sweet sherry
1/4 cup sugar
4 black cod steaks
Heat the broiler; line the pan with foil and lightly oil the foil.
In a saucepan bring the soy sauce, mirin and sugar to a boil, stirring. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to 2/3 cup, about 10 minutes.
Put the black cod in the prepared pan. Brush with the soy sauce mixture. Broil until well browned, about 2 minutes. Turn and brush with more of the soy sauce mixture. Continue cooking until the fish is browned and just barely done, about 3 minutes longer. Brush with the remaining soy sauce mixture and serve to four.
GROUPER WITH TOMATO GINGER SAUCE
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
11/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
13/4 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 pounds grouper fillets
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
In a large skillet heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the ginger; cook, stirring, 2 minutes longer. Add the tomatoes and salt and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for 10 minutes.
Add the fillets and black pepper to the pan and cook, covered, until just done, 10-12 minutes longer for 1-inch fillets. Stir the cilantro into the sauce. Serve the fish to four with the sauce.
SEA BASS BAKED IN FOIL
WITH PESTO, ZUCCHINI
4 sea bass, about 1-inch thick
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup pesto
3 carrots, grated
1 zucchini, grated
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
Put four squares of foil on a work surface and brush lightly with vegetable oil. Put a fish fillet in center of each square of foil. Sprinkle the fillets with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Spread the fish with pesto. Cover the pesto with the carrots and top with the zucchini. Sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper.
Gather the foil around the fish and drizzle the fish with the oil and wine. Fold the edges of the foil to make a sealed package. Put the foil packages on a baking sheet.
Bake the fish in a preheated 450-degree oven 15-30 minutes.
Open the foil packages and transfer the fillets with their vegetable topping to plates; pour the juices over the top and serve to four.
And at the end of a long day of traveling there are few things that are as satisfying to the cook and those eating dinner as a nice bowl of ...
HOT & SOUR FISH SOUP
11/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 shallots, cut into thin slices
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
canned jalapeño peppers, minced (be carefu; and use very little to begin with)
1 quart chicken broth
2 cups water
grated zest of 2 lemons
grated zest of 3 limes
1/2 pound mushrooms, quartered
5 tablespoons lime juice (from about 3 limes)
2 pounds swordfish steaks, skinned, cut into about 2- by 1-inch pieces
2 tomatoes, cut into large dice
1/3 cup cilantro leaves
In a pot, heat oil over moderately low heat. Add the shallots, ginger and jalapeños; cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add the broth and water; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in the zests and mushrooms; simmer 5 minutes longer.
Add lime juice and fish to the pot. Cook until the fish is just done, about 2 minutes. Serve sprinkled with the tomatoes and cilantro to four.
HINT OF THE MONTH
For optimum flavor and moistness, cook most fish until just cooked through. Avoid overcooking; even a minute of extra time can result in dry fish. To test for doneness, make a small cut in the thickest part of the flesh with the tip of a paring knife; the flesh should appear opaque unless you are cooking salmon or tuna.
Marian Platt's column appears the first and third week of each month in the Sequim Gazette. She can be reached at 683-4691 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
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