Martha Stewart Living Radio: The Radio Blog

How the Home Cook Cooks Fish

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From buying it to cooking it to serving it, the fish preparation process is an intimidating one for many home cooks. The sometimes delicate texture, the often offensive smell, and the fine line between undercooked and overcooked combine to make fish one of the protein sources Americans are least likely to prepare at home. In an effort to calm our listeners' fears and convince them that making a dynamite salmon isn't all that painful, we invited Matt Hughes, executive chef at New York City's Blue Water Grill to join us on "Living Today." A few tips from Matt:

  • Chef Hughes says his favorite fish is halibut because of its great texture and mild flavor. So give that a try.
  • Experiment with a mild fish like catfish. Try a lemon and garlic preparation one week; a tomato-based preparation the next. See what you and your family like.
  • With a higher- fat fish like salmon, be careful on the grill. Keep the heat on the low side so you don’t burn it.

Watch Matt prepare a red snapper and look below the video for some of Matt's easy-to-make fish recipes.

Grilled Salmon, (firm fleshed fish such as tuna, sword fish, or striped bass would work here ), Grilled Red Bliss Potatoes, Grilled Corn, Chimichuri Sauce
Serves 4

4 7 ounce  portions of salmon (any kind you prefer)
1 1/2 pounds small red bliss potatoes, washed and cut into wedges
4 each corn on the cob shucked and soaked in water (helps prevent burning on grill)
1 pound spinach
6 ounces grill marinade ( see recipe below)
8 ounces Chimichuri  ( see recipe below)

Grill Marinade

3/4 cup olive oil
Zest from 4 lemons
Juice from 4 lemons
1/4 cup capers
4 tablespoons cracked black pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Mix all ingredients together in large bowl and refrigerate 

Chimichuri Sauce

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of two lemons
1/8 cup parsley
1/8 cup cilantro
1/8 cup oregano
1/2 green bell pepper finely diced
1 bay leaf
1 celery stick finely diced
2 teaspoons green Tabasco
2 teaspoons garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients.

To assemble: Season potatoes and corn with salt and pepper and drizzle with Grill Marinade, grill over medium heat until done.  Meanwhile, season fish and dress with grill marinade on both sides.  Place skin side down on hot grill, cook approximately 4 minutes per side for MR, move as little as possible.  Remove potatoes and corn from grill. Shave corn into a bowl, add potatoes, toss in spinach , dress with olive oil  and divide among 4 plates.  Place fish in center and top with a line of Chimichuri.   

Brazilian Fish Stew
1 pound any firm white fish
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup coconut milk
2 bell peppers diced, preferably mixed colors
2 tomatoes diced
1 small red onion diced
4 clove of garlic minced
1 teaspoon miced ginger
2 tablespoons chopped green scallions
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
This classic dish known as Moqueca is a one pot wonder. In Brazil, special clay pots are used but this can easily be done in a shallow baking dish. 

Cut fish into 2-inch cubes.  Begin by covering bottom of the pan with a thin mixture of the vegetables, then cover with the fish and top with remaining vegetables.  Separately, mix the tomato sauce, coconut milk, and lime juice together. Season to taste and pour directly into pan, place the pan in a preheated, 350-degree oven and bake for 20-30 minutes until fish is cooked. Add the cilantro at end upon removing from oven, adjust seasoning. Serve with white rice, fresh tomato salsa, and your favorite hot sauce.   
Whole Roasted Snapper (bronzini, dorade, or farmed-raised bass work here), Roasted Potatoes, and Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade 
4 ounces  golden tomatoes (pureed)
2 ounces peeled shallots diced
1 ounce chives
8 ounces  sun-dried tomatoes, small diced and reconstituted in olive oil
8 ounces sherry wine
4 ounces blended oil
4 ounces extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces capers

Mix all ingredients and season. This can make a dramatic presentation and is extremely easy to pull off. Have the fish gutted and scaled and have gills removed. Score the sides of fish the length of the fish, season with salt, pepper, lemon juice, and garlic. Stand fish up on pan-- you can use a bottle or a beer can in belly cavity to support fish. Also, place a skewer through tale along spine to support tail during cooking.   Place seasoned fish in  a 375-degree oven for 15 minutes until flesh flakes with a fork, remove from oven, transfer to large platter and remove bottle or can and skewer. Spoon sun-dried tomato tapenade over the top of the fish and garnish with parsley.  A simple accompaniment of  roasted potatoes and broccoli rabe complete this dish.

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