Monday, December 08, 2014

Baking Class: Baked Fish

Once again the holidays are upon us and the year seems to have flown by faster than ever.  I read recently that time seems to pass more quickly as we get older due to the fact that we have simply experienced everything so many more times that each event tends to blend together with the preceding years' worth of events.  It is far easier to remember your first ten holidays than the 30- 40- 50-plus that accumulate over time.  There are some particularly memorable holidays that stand out for various reasons, but other than that I would be hard pressed to remember a holiday for a specific year.

An unpleasant side effect of how quickly time seems to pass these days is that I feel like I have less time to get everything done.  So I am always grateful to find a new way to cook that is fast and easy and gets dinner on the table in about half an hour.  And I am especially pleased to have found a way to cook fish so quickly and easily, as I am always trying to incorporate more of that into my diet and it was not around our kitchen much when I was young (other than that awful frozen block of haddock/halibut that my mother tried to pass off as dinner when we were kids.)

When I saw the halibut at the fish counter I was a bit trepidatious, as I am pretty sure that was one of the awful bland mushy frozen blocks of fish my mother used to cook, but it looked so fresh and so good that I decided it was worth the risk.  I brought it home, placed it on a foil-lined baking sheet, seasoned it, poured a little olive oil over it, added a couple of tablespoon's worth of za'atar, and baked it for about 15-20 minutes.

The result was spectacular.  It was cooked all the way through with a firm texture but still moist, and the za'atar added a marvelous burst of flavor.  And it was so quick to prepare and cook that I have since baked many pieces of fish this way.

The beauty of this "recipe" is that is extremely versatile.  You can use any firm fish and any combination of herbs or spices that you have handy or for which you are in the mood.  I have used fresh thyme, fresh dill, ginger and garlic, or a combination of dried herbs, all with great success.  It is virtually foolproof.
Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipe
Makes 3-4 servings
3/4 to 1 lb firm fish fillets (halibut, haddock, salmon, arctic char)
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 to 2 Tbsp fresh or dried herbs, or a spice blend

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lay the fish skin side down on it. Season with the salt and pepper, then pour the oil over it so it spreads evenly across it. Sprinkle the herbs or spices over it.

Place it on a rack in the middle of the oven and bak for 15 to 20 minutes, until the flesh is just firm. Remove from the oven and let it rest 10 to 15 minutes before serving.


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