Monday, January 18, 2010

The simplest, healthiest way to cook at home

Many of my friends have said they don't make fish at home very often because they don't know how to cook it. In fact, I think it's the easiest--and fastest--way to make a healthy dinner. Just follow a few simple suggestions and you'll find it's pretty foolproof.
Of course, we all know that fish is marvelously healthy and that we should all eat more of it, right? So the only question is, what's the best way to do so.
Health wise, you are almost always better off preparing your own food, versus eating at a restaurant or picking up something already made (whether it be at a gourmet-to-go place, your supermarket's ready-made case or the drive-through).
Here are my tips:
1. Buy fillets, either fresh or frozen. I shop at Luken's (Findlay Market) for fresh fish, but also at Bigg's, and at Trader Joe's for frozen.
2. My go-to method is to saute almost any kind of fish in a pan. Use one with a nonstick surface and you really don't need any oil, although a little olive oil adds a nice flavor. I find that it's too easy to overcook fish in the oven, and most fish is too delicate to hold together on the grill.
3. Heat the pan over medium to medium-high heat. Season your fillets with salt and pepper and other herbs or spices that you like. Cook on one side for a couple of minutes, until it's starting to brown. Carefully turn over (with tongs or a spatula) and cook the other side.
4. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for a few more minutes. Almost all varieties of fish are incredibly quick-cooking--a real plus for the weeknight cook!
5. Add a few ingredients to the pan to make a sauce. Squeeze a lemon over top, sprinkle some chopped garlic in the pan and stir; spoon a pesto sauce or jarred tapenade--the possibilities are endless!
I'm adding a few shots of fish I have made this way, including a salmon and tuna salad where I put those fish, cooked in a pan, over greens and added potatoes, green beans, capers, tomatoes, etc. The others are grouper and tilapia.
Don't be intimidated by cooking fish--it's easy, and you'll love the results!

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