Fresh fish should not be overlooked

September 25, 2013 

The Gulf of Mexico is teaming with a huge variety of fish -- redfish, flounder, speckled trout, mullet, pompano, grouper and snapper, just to name a few.

Even with that variety of relatively inexpensive fish available locally, however, fresh fish from local waters remains overlooked on the dinner table when compared to other staples such as chicken or beef.

It is surprising since a diet of fresh fish is known for its health benefits, and experts recommend one to two servings per week. Fish is low in fat, high in protein and in omega-3 fatty acids.

There are many ways to prepare fish, from raw, as in sushi, to deep fried. It can be stuffed, rolled with a filling, put into a stew, eaten as a filet and topped with everything from capers to pesto.

Whether the recipe is elegant or as simple as sautéed and served with a tartar sauce, fish is a healthy and delicious option.

When purchasing fish, the filets should smell clean and salty like the water they came from. If buying a whole fish, check to make sure the eyes are clear and not cloudy.

BLACKENED FISH WITH CAPER SAUCE

This is exceptionally good when served with grits.

2 pounds redfish or snapper fillets

Olive oil

Blackened seasoning

4 tablespoons butter

2 chopped shallots

3/4 cup dry white wine

2-3 tablespoons of capers

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3/4 cup water

3/4 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoons ground white pepper

1 tablespoons fresh finely chopped basil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rub the fish with olive oil and then sprinkle on the blackened seasoning, but only on one side. Bake for 5-6 minutes until almost done, remove and turn the oven on to broil. Add the butter to a sauté pan, then the shallots and cook for about three minutes. Add the wine and simmer for a few minutes, then add the lemon juice, capers, and the rest of the butter and simmer for a few minutes more. Finally add the water and simmer to reduce so that the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Season with salt and pepper, taste and re-season as necessary. Place the fish under the broiled and cook the fish just long enough to sear it, remove from the oven, garnish with basil and serve immediately. Be

careful not to overcook the fish.

SIMPLE FLOUNDER ALMONDINE WITH FRESH SPINACH

1 pound flounder filets

Zest of 1/2 of a lemon

1/2 cup sliced almonds

3-4 tablespoons butter

Salt and pepper

1 package baby spinach

Olive oil

2-3 cloves garlic

1-2 pinches red pepper flakes

Season the fish with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a medium hot sauté pan and cook the fish for about three minutes on a side, until just starting to take on some color. Be careful not to overcook the fish or they will be dry and uninteresting. Just before done add the almonds and zest to the pan and toss gently. Remove the fish from the pan and top with the almonds and zest.

In another deep sauté pan add 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil and heat to medium high. Add the garlic and cook until just starting to brown, add the red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add the spinach and stir until just wilted. Place the spinach on a large serving tray and top with the fish filets.

WHOLE BAKED FISH MEDITERRANEAN STYLE

This is a simple recipe that is delicious with nothing more than a cold glass of white wine and a loaf of crusty French bread.

1 (2-to-3-pound) whole fish (redfish, trout etc)

1 whole lemon

3-4 sprigs rosemary

Sea salt and white pepper

Olive oil, best quality

Have your fish seller clean and scale the fish. Rinse it in cold water and then dry it thoroughly. Rub the entire fish well with olive oil. Season it inside and out with salt and white pepper, slice the lemon thinly and layer the slices inside the fish, top with the rosemary sprigs. Bake at 350 degrees until done, but not over cooked. Cook time will vary according to the size of the fish. Use a sharp, thin knife to test for being cooked through; the knife should penetrate the fish easily and come out dry. Drizzle a little of your best quality olive oil over the fish and serve at once.

This recipe also works well on the grill.

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