Many people think that baking fish is difficult, especially if you’re looking for moist, tasty results. That isn’t true. There are a variety of recipes that give you a fantastic meal.
The basics for baking a flaky, moist fish are the same no matter the recipe. Locate the freshest fish possible for the best result. Always check cooking times, because the cooking of the fish varies according to its thickness, whatever recipe for baking you are following. The general rule is: for every inch (at the thickest part of the fish) allow 10 minutes’ baking time. Fillets average 15 minutes baking time, while fish steaks bake between 10-15 minutes.
You must take into account the type of fish you are cooking. Different fish varieties need special consideration when baking. Cod, haddock, or plaice are lean fish which don’t contain much fat within the meat. Special effort needs to be taken to ensure the fish doesn’t dry out. These fish are best baked with a small amount of liquid which could be water, wine, butter, milk, lemon, lime or orange juice, or olive and canola oil. Herbs add flavor and aroma, also tomatoes, chopped vegetables, or onions for variety.
Coating the fish with flour or breadcrumbs also protects the flesh from drying as it bakes. Wrapping the fish in foil keeps the moisture in, similar to steaming, and cuts down on cleaning time. Spray the foil with olive oil spray, season the fish with Mrs. Dash and some squeezed lemon juice. Put the fish on the foil, fold the sides around the fish and seal at the top. In a preheated oven cook the fish for the calculated time, until the meat is firm and white. When baking a whole fish in foil, be sure it has been properly cleaned, scaled and gutted. Cooking a whole fish can take longer than a piece only: 40-50 minutes is usually needed. Calculating the time is also another method consisting of 15 minutes per ½ kilo plus an additional 15 minutes.
Large round fish like grey mullet or sea bass, must have several diagonal cuts into the fish so it will cook more quickly, and evenly. It also helps the fish to keep its original shape. Brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with lemon juice and herbs, or put the lemon and seasoning in the body cavity.
Stuffing is another way to retain moisture in your fish while it bakes. Two ounces of fresh breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, some chopped parsley, chopped bacon, a little beaten egg and some milk when mixed together, forms a paste used to stuff the fish. A cooked stuffing is also popular. Melt butter, adding chopped onions and celery; after warming in a frying pan, add to chopped herbs, breadcrumbs, and salt and pepper mixing thoroughly.
Just baking alone, there are hundreds of delicious recipes to try. Check any cookbook for the section on baked fish and find some that will appeal to your family. Then you can easily improve their health and meal variety by adding more fish to their diet!
Making your own tartar sauce while the fish bakes is an easy task. Just mix together 1 cup mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp. green relish, and 1 Tbsp. chopped parsley. Mix well and chill. Then it is ready for the fish.
A hot cheese sauce is another family favorite with fish. Make a medium white sauce with milk, add grated cheese and stir until melted completely. Pour this warm over the fish when you are ready to serve. Baked fish will become a family favorite in no time.
Neil Wardlow has been writing professionally since 1989. Neil discovered he enjoyed writing when he suffered an injury during his 15-year building construction career. Neil now writes full-time, whenever he’s not occupied with entertaining family and friends, growing things, or making repairs in and around his beautiful ranch house.