Three easy fish suppers

Fish can sim­ple yet el­e­gant, with­out much ef­fort

The Irish Times Magazine - - FOOD - CARMEL SOMERS

Fish is the best con­ve­nience food there is – cooked in min­utes with lit­tle prepa­ra­tion and no mess. It’s sim­ple yet el­e­gant, with­out much ef­fort. It sells it­self. It’s an in­gre­di­ent that has so much go­ing for it, never fail­ing to im­press both in its raw and cooked state. Yet, it is the one in­gre­di­ent that causes the most fear in both the novice cook and trained chef. Even to the ex­tent that some avoid it. How many restau­rant menus have no freshly cooked fish on them? Too many.

Most meth­ods of cook­ing, from pan fry­ing, grilling, poach­ing, steam­ing, en pa­pil­lote to bak­ing, work with fish. This makes it the ideal in­gre­di­ent for a sim­ple, last- minute lunch or din­ner, a one- pot dish for a fam­ily and above all it is ideal when cook­ing for one.

Cook­ing fish isn’t hard. So, in the in­ter­est of get­ting fish on your ta­ble here are my main pieces of ad­vice.

“Buy well and cook sim­ple” is my mantra when it comes to all food, es­pe­cially fish. When shop­ping for fish use your nose and eyes . Fresh fish is vis­i­bly firmer and it doesn’t smell “fishy”. Don’t be shy about ask­ing its ori­gin ( which will give you an idea of its age – the fur­ther it has trav­elled, the less fresh) and for a close- up smell. Skin­ning, bon­ing and scal­ing it can seem daunt­ing when you’re caught for time or don’t have the right tools, so ask your fish­mon­ger to do the job for you. Don’t be drawn to a cer­tain type of fish if it means com­pro­mis­ing on fresh­ness. In time, you’ll de­velop a good re­la­tion­ship with your fish­mon­ger and they’ll point you in the right di­rec­tion. I can safely say that a friend­ship with your butcher and fish­mon­ger will al­ways be an as­set. Over­cook­ing is the most preva­lent er­ror in the kitchen. This can be eas­ily cor­rected when one re­mem­bers that fish is done when the flesh just starts to turn from translu­cent to opaque while still firm and moist. Keep in mind that it will con­tinue to cook in its own heat as it makes its way to the ta­ble. Fish, un­like meat, soft­ens as you cook it. Un­der­cooked fish can al­ways be re­turned to the pan whereas over- cooked fish is just a pity!

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