Just about every Wednesday, you’ll find me at my local farmer’s market. I wait patiently in line with my fellow customers, six feet apart, until it’s my turn for an audience with the seafood vendor.
Typically he will have sea bass, tuna, cod, bluefish and half a dozen other wonderful choices. Most of these fish are freshly caught in regional waters as they migrate or pass through New England waters.
The Arctic char come from farther away, northern Canada. I’m eager for Alaska salmon– which will be frozen because it must cross the continent–this is usually the season for sockeye and king salmon. But the vendor tells me the pipeline is a little slower this year.
The whole point is keeping it simple, letting the seafood shine. So I just buy whichever fillets sound good and figure out how to prep it when I get home.
Here are three of my favorite ways, calling for a quick roast, broil or grill:
- Season fillets and lavish them with tomato chunks, olives, capers and olive oil (recipe follows). This method works well with Arctic char, wild salmon, grouper, snapper or any fish that can stand up to oven heat. (see lead photo)
- Mix coarse bread crumbs with chopped parsley, garlic and olive oil. Spread over fillets (same varieties as the first method) and roast until the crumbs brown (recipe follows).
- Smear fillets with a mustardy marinade and broil or grill. This is delicious with Arctic char, as shown here, but also with dark, flavorful fish such as Spanish mackerel or bluefish.
One of these days I’ll get around to making a more complicated dish such as seafood paella or a fish stew, but right now I’d rather spend that time rustling up some fresh corn or zucchini to go with my fish fillets, simply dressed and cooked.
This fish dish is delicious anytime, but especially when summer tomatoes are in their glory.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 4 medium-thick white fish fillets such as cod, wild salmon, snapper or grouper (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
- Sea salt or kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1-1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes or diced fresh tomato
- 1/2 cup Mediterrean olives Gaeta, kalamata, or Castelvetrano, pitted or not
- 2 tablespoons capers soaked briefly in water
- 1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves snipped in small pieces
- ½ cup white wine
Preheat oven to 350°F. Drizzle olive oil over the bottom of a roasting pan and smear it around. Rinse the fillets and, if there are pin bones, pull them out with fish tweezers or fingers.
Place the fillets in the roasting pan, skin side down. Sprinkle on both sides with salt and pepper. Scatter the cherry tomatoes, olives, drained capers and half of the parsley over and around the fish. Drizzle generously with olive oil (2 to 3 tablespoons) and the wine.
Bake until the fillets are just done, 10 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness. Sprinkle with the rest of the parsley.
To serve: Transfer the fillets to shallow soup plates. Spoon the toppings and juices on and around the fish. Serve with country-style bread and, if you like, dressed arugula or other greens on the side.
Some people are leery of oilier, darker-hued fish such as bluefish and Spanish mackerel. But when they are perfectly fresh, there is nothing better. And these varieties can stand up to a big blast of heat, emerging moist and delicious from the oven.
- 2 or 3 bluefish or mackerel fillets about 1 pound, preferably skin on
- 1 or 2 slices semolina bread or country-style white bread*
- Leaves from 2 or 3 Italian parsley sprigs
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Rinse the fillets and check them over, pulling out any bones with your fingers or fish tweezers.
To make parslied bread crumbs: Tear the bread into pieces and place in a food processor bowl. Process until the crumb is fairly uniform; add the parsley leaves and pulse until the crumb is medium fine, with the parsley bits distributed evenly. Moisten crumbs with half of the olive oil.
Place the fillets, skin side down, on a sheet pan or broiler pan. Sprinkle with salt and several grindings of pepper. Rub the fillets with remaining olive oil and top with parslied bread crumbs, pressing them firmly with the flat of your hand.
Roast the fillets on a center rack until cooked through, about 12 minutes. Check after 10 minutes and, if the bread crumbs need to be browned more, move the pan to the top rack.
Note: Instead of making bread crumbs, mix chopped parsley and olive oil with panko and proceed as described.