A New Way to Cook Fish

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I’ve been cooking and eating for more years than I care to share, and have taught, researched and written about food professionally for more than a decade. Given these facts, I’m always thrilled to discover new techniques and ingredients.

Last week, I learned a fabulous new way to cook fish. Sure, it’s baked in the oven, which is not exactly revolutionary, but the timing and saucing are a new approach for me. Here’s the story:

I was doing my weekly shop in Reading Terminal Market, where I bought some fluke. The fishmonger told me it was much better than the flounder that day because it was larger and firmer.

I then marched over to Condiment, the new and innovative shop that sells custom sauces, marinades, flavored butters, stocks and everything the home cook needs for a gourmet meal without having to spend hours preparing it. Oh, and the store also provide recipes, cooking suggestions and tasting samples of everything.

I told the chef there about my fluke, and he recommended a fish-cooking method that is pretty darn fantastic.

The premise is that fish does not require much to make it wonderful, and that you want to actually taste the fish with a sauce that complements, not overpowers.

Oftentimes, we dump the sauce or marinade over the fish before, during and after cooking. This sauce lands around the perimeter and burns onto the surface of the pan. That does nothing to flavor the fish, and creates a nasty chore for the cleanup crew.

Instead, my friend at Condiment advised me to bake the fish and just add the sauce at the very end — this approach enables the fish to cook thoroughly, delivers plenty of flavor from the sauce and avoids the gunky mess.

You can make your own sauces, or use a high-quality store bought version, such as those offered at Condiment. Try a bourbon-honey glaze or barbecue sauce over salmon, a lemon beurre blanc or white wine reduction on sole or flounder and a ginger soy or chimichurri over tuna. The possibilities are endless.

Here’s the method:

Baked and Sauced Fish

Serves 4

1½ pounds fish (filets or steaks)

Salt and pepper

3 tablespoons butter or oil

½ cup sauce of your choice

Heat your oven to 400 degrees, and sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper.

Place the fish in a baking dish and cook it in the oven for about 5 minutes until a slight crust begins to form.

Remove the fish from the oven, place butter or oil on its surface, and place it back in the oven.

Bake for another 6 minutes or so until the fish is nearly done. NOTE: Thinner, more delicate filets, such as flounder or sole, may only require half that time, while thicker, more robust fish like tuna steaks or salmon will need 6 minutes or longer.

Remove the fish from the oven, pour the sauce over it and place it back in the oven for 2 minutes, which is just enough time for the sauce to heat and melt over fish.

Serve immediately.

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