A Fishy Story

While some of us are suffering during the pandemic, the canals of Venice are have a resurgence. Italian photographer Andrea Mangoni captured this picture of a jellyfish swimming in a canal, showing the lovely reflection of a building. Seeing any fish during the pandemic is pretty rare in my kitchen. I have always thought fish should be eaten the day it is bought, if not on the day it is caught. Thus, unlike chicken and meat that I can put away in the freezer, we get to eat fish only when we do marketing, once every 10 days to 2 weeks.

Luckily, when I did my last Instacart order the store had some fresh cod we were able to have some for dinner and had enough left over for lunch the next day.

For a long time I have enjoyed cooking fish on my charcoal grill but cooking it inside my kitchen has always been a bit daunting. A few years ago I started cooking cod or scrod or flounder in a way that has produced a consistently acceptable dish. These fish are all pretty similar to me. This is more a method than a recipe and you will need to figure out the amounts to suit how many people you are serving. I had about 1.75 pounds of fish. Before placing it in the oven I cover it with a topping made of about 2 ounces (1/2 stick) of melted butter, about 3/4 cups panko, some smoked paprika and salt and pepper. Mixing the crumbs with the melted butter gives a nice uniform topping. If you think about it, the amount of topping you need to make is more related to the area of fish you need to cover rather than the actual weight.

Smoked paprika is a spice I only started using a few years ago but love its big, smokey flavor. A little goes a long way. If you don't have it you can add it to your pandemic shopping list, it will probably be more available than yeast or flour. I suppose you could use regular breadcrumbs but I love the texture of panko crumbs and for some reason they have a lower calorie count. If you take the fish out of the fridge so that it gets close to room temperature before placing it in the oven, it will cook in about 10 minutes at 400. Sometimes I give it an extra 2 minutes with the broiler on.

I had some left over the following day but not enough for three people. The answer was a faux salade nicoise. I sprinkled the fish over a green salad with cucumber, tomato, and hard boiled egg. I dressed it with a vinaigrette made with white balsamic vinegar, olive oil, some dried thyme and oregano as well as salt and pepper. I don't think white balsamic tastes different from the red but I happened to have more on hand than the traditional reddish brown.

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