Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Fish Tale

by Peg Cochran

Or, "A Fish Dish We Actually Liked."  I have to confess to not knowing a whole lot about cooking fish although I have zillions of recipes for beef, pork, lamb and chicken. In an effort to consume more fish I bought a bag of frozen "swai."  (Fresh fish is hideously expensive in Michigan because we are so far from the sea.) I had no idea what swai was, but it said it was mild and buttery tasting so I figured that would be good.  I later discovered (via the great Wikipedia) that swai is Vietnamese cat fish.  I did not tell my husband that before serving this to him!

I found this recipe online and scribbled down the directions without noting where it came from so I cannot give proper attribution.  But it was easy and we really liked it!  As a matter of fact, I made it twice in two weeks--a record for us.

The original recipe was for six fillets but I cut it down to two which is all we needed to eat.  Leftover fish isn't something you take to work the next day and heat up in the office microwave--not unless you really want to irritate your colleagues.


2 fish fillets (swai or tilapia or cod would all work)
olive oil
Fish seasoning
Lemon juice and/or white wine

Rinse and dry your fillets with a paper towel.  Then dry them with a second paper towel--it seems like overkill but they will brown better.  Either sprinkle the fish with a seasoning of your choice or mix the seasoning into a couple of scoops of flour that you've put on a plate.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Dip fish in flour and cover on both sides.  Meanwhile heat the olive oil (just enough to coat the pan) in a saute pan until shimmering but not smoking.  No need to set off the smoke alarm.  Place the floured fish in the pan and cook for three minutes.

Flip the fish (a metal spatula works best) and place 1/2 tablespoon of butter on each fillet.  Cook two minutes more.  Remove fish to a plate, turn down heat, and add a good squeeze of lemon juice to the pan.  If you don't have enough lemon juice, you can mix it with white wine.  Deglaze the pan and pour the sauce (there will be very little but that's okay) over the fish. 

Voila!  Dinner! Make some easy sides and you've got this on the table in less than half an hour.

I used a store brand fish and seafood seasoning that had bits of lemon and orange in it.

I mixed the fish seasoning in with the flour

Dip your fillets in the flour and cover on both sides

Brown one side, flip, and place 1/2 tablespoon of butter on top of each fillet


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  1. Looks good Peg! and good decision not to tell the hub:)--need to know basis...

  2. This sounds very good! I like the idea of making a sauce to pour on the fish. We eat a lot of fish in the summer when my husband catches them. Usually crappies and blue gills and some perch. But he usually deep fries it in an outdoor cooker. It is very tasty! But I will definitely have to try your recipe.

    1. I imagine it would be even better with fresh fish!

  3. We love fish and this sounds like an excellent method. I'm never seen 'fish spice' up here, but will look around.

    Thanks,. Peg, and mum's the word on the vcf.


  4. Frozen fish can be quite good. It often (sometimes?) has been treated better than the "fresh" fish one finds in the store.
    A nice, simple way of cooking the fish. Excellent.
    The only complaint I have about making fish is that all the dishes and pans need to be washed that night. I can't stand the aroma of fish the next day.

  5. Libby, Yes, I agree that frozen can be even better than "fresh" at times. (The same can be true for veggies, as I'm sure you know.)

    My dad would agree with you about the aroma of fish. He wouldn't even wait for the next day. He couldn't stand it, even for a minute. I think it may have been some kind of trauma from his World War II days?

  6. I've tried frozen swai as well. It's a lovely fish. Cooks as easily as tilapia and doesn't have any overwhelmingly fishy taste. I understand it's pretty common in Australia.

  7. Well, today is Charles Dickens' birthday, so happy 203d to him!

    Also, it's great to have a fish recipe here, because Lent is coming soon.

    Ash Wednesday is on my birthday this year.

    One thing about the fish seasoning: Check the ingredients. It may be cheaper to just mix them together yourself. Also, check to be sure there's nothing unhealthy, like coloring, etc.

    Also, be sure to check out some of the sustainable fish and seafood websites, like seafoodwatch dot org. There are others, as well.

  8. Thanks for sharing. I wonder if you can make this without the flour coating?


    1. Dru, I think you could omit the flour and just brown the outside of the fish.