What can I say? It's summer, and it's hot. Kinda makes you feel like not cooking at all, right? This week I've eaten microwaved bacon and ice cream for dinner (not mixed together), and another night I ordered my daughter to bring home sushi.
But there are recipes that minimize the heat (and, no, they're not all for ice cream!). I'm going to give you my go-to fish recipe, which can be cooked in a low oven or on the grill.
First let's talk about fish. As I've probably said before, I live twenty miles from the ocean and I still can't get decent fresh fish (at least, not without getting into a boat myself). But I like to eat fish, as I learned at my father's knee, and we all know it's good for us, so I persevere at the supermarket. Ours has a nice small fish department, and I spend enough time there that the lady behind the counter chats with me. I know, most of the fish has been flown in from somewhere and/or flash frozen on a ship. That's where things get tricky. I've cooked some "previously frozen" white fish that turned to mush the minute it hit the pan. Other meaty white fishes like cod and haddock hold up better. But in my household our favorite fish is salmon.
I know, I know--farmraised salmon is no better for us than...what? It's no doubt been pumped full of hormones to grow large and fast, and antibiotics, and food filled with who knows what (just like our beef and our chicken and...). But it's affordable (compared to the wild salmon) and it's tasty, and it holds up well to cooking. We've got to eat something, right?
So I'll give you a secret (that I learned some years ago from our local newspaper) for a foolproof and relatively cool way to cook fish, particularly salmon: use a low oven, with a tray filled with boiling water under it. Really. It works.
Use whatever fish filets you prefer, and marinate them if you like (more on that below). At the very least season them with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Take a pan (a 9" round or square baking pan works well) and set it on an oven rack below the one that will hold the fish. Fill the pan with boiling water, then shut the oven door and let the steam circulate a bit. Put your fish (skin side down, if there is skin) on another pan (line it with foil if you don't feel like cleaning up), preferably a broiler pan so the heat will circulate around the fish, and put the pan into the oven on the upper shelf. Cook for approximately 20 minutes (time will vary according to how thick your filets are). Presto: a tender, moist fish that's almost impossible to overcook, and you didn't heat up the kitchen!
|One-pound filet of farm-raised salmon|
The marinade: This one's going to start out looking a lot like my last marinade recipe, but it's different, really. It works very well with a strong-flavored fish such as salmon.
|The usual suspects|
minced or pressed garlic
salt and pepper, and
whole grain mustard!
The amounts of each will vary according to how much fish you need to cover, and how much you like the components. Mix these together and massage it all over your filets and let them marinate as long as you like (a few hours is fine).
|Marinated and ready to cook|