Find new ways to prepare a Lenten staple

In addition to the traditional Friday fish fry, there are myriad ways to make fish the centerpiece

It’s the Lenten season, when Catholics and many others partake in the tradition of eating meatless meals each Friday, a recognition of the sacrifice Jesus made on Good Friday.

While many people frequent area fish fries on Fridays, others struggle to find meatless dishes that vary from the predictable macaroni and cheese, eggs and tuna casseroles.

There are plenty of cuisines that include dishes ideal for Lenten dinners. Many Italian foods can be adapted to eliminate meat, for example, and Asian dishes often don’t use meat. There are also numerous Mexican foods that use beans instead of meat.

Some families opt to have breakfast for dinner, perhaps waffles or pancakes. Try crepes, filling them with jelly or jam.

For people who have thought about trying a vegetarian lifestyle, Lent is an ideal time to experiment with meatless meals. Pasta dishes, vegetable pizza, cheese soup and baked potatoes with a variety of toppings are just a few ideas.

But fish is a popular — and heart-healthy — choice. There are a wide variety of fish,  and a multitude of ways to prepare it.        It can be baked with a crispy crust, offering the same delicious taste with fewer calories. 

It can be roasted with vegetables to bring new flavors to life.

It can be crusted with herbs or potatoes to retain moisture during cooking.

It can be used in a stew or soup, adding a tasty yet healthful flair to a Lenten meal.

Fish is a delicious source of protein that’s low in fat. A three-ounce cooked serving of most fish provides about 20 grams of protein, roughly one-third of the average daily recommended amount. The protein in fish is of high quality, containing an abundance of essential amino acids. 

When selecting fish, check to see how it smells. If it smells fishy, it’s not fresh. The color of fresh fish fillets varies, but it should always be bright and uniform, never yellow at the edges. The flesh should be moist, firm and cleanly cut. The flesh should never be partially thawed or covered with ice crystals, a sign of thawing and refreezing. 

Refrigerate raw fish in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Use a thermometer and keep the refrigerator set between 34 and 40 degrees. It’s best to use fresh fish within one to two days. 

The standard rule is to bake fish 10 minutes for each inch of thickness. Turn the fish halfway through cooking, unless it’s 1/2 inch or less. To ensure fillets cook evenly, tuck thin ends under. 

Following are some fish dishes from www.bonappetit.com.

 

Perfect Fish Tacos

For fish:

2 pounds skinless red snapper or other mild white fish fillets

1 cup flour

1 cup white rice flour

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 cups club soda

About 8 cups vegetable oil 

For assembly:

16 small corn tortillas 

Cabbage or Jicama Slaw

Fresno chile hot sauce

Pickled Jalapeños

Sliced avocado

Cilantro leaves with tender stems

Lime wedges

 

Remove any pin bones from fish fillets using tweezers. Cut each fillet in half lengthwise. Cut each half on a diagonal into 1-inch strips, working with the natural shape of the fish as you cut.

Whisk flour, rice flour and salt in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in club soda until no lumps remain, adding more club soda or rice flour as needed to make it the consistency of thin pancake batter — pourable  but thick enough to coat the fish.

Fit a large pot with a deep-fry thermometer and add 2 inches oil. Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 350 degrees.

Working in batches of five to seven pieces at a time, coat fish in batter, letting excess drip off. Carefully place in oil, taking care not to overcrowd the pot.

Fry fish about five minutes, turning occasionally with a fish spatula or slotted spoon and maintaining oil temperature at 350 degrees until crust is puffed, crisp and golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet and season immediately with salt.

Use tongs to heat tortillas one at a time over gas burner, about one minute per side, moving them often, until lightly charred and puffed in spots. Transfer to a plate and cover with a clean kitchen towel to keep warm. 

If you don’t have a gas stove, wrap up a stack of tortillas in a sheet of foil and heat in a 350-degree oven until warmed through.

Top tortillas with fish, slaw, hot sauce, avocado, cilantro, and jalapeños. Serve with lime wedges.

 

Mackerel With Crushed Potatoes and Oregano

2 pounds small waxy potatoes such as baby Yukon gold

Kosher salt

1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper

4 cloves garlic peeled, crushed

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

4 6-ounce skin-on mackerel fillets

2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Flaky sea salt such as Maldon

 

Place potatoes in a large pot, add water to cover and season with kosher salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 to 12 minutes, until tender. Drain, then let cool slightly.

Whisk yogurt, lemon juice and vinegar in a small bowl, then season with kosher salt and pepper. Set aside.

Place potatoes on a broilerproof rimmed baking sheet and, using the bottom of a small bowl or measuring cup, press potatoes to flatten slightly. Add garlic, drizzle with 4 tablespoons oil, and toss to coat. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Broil potatoes for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown.

Rub skin side of mackerel with remaining oil, then season with kosher salt and pepper. Place, skin side up, on top of potatoes and broil 10 to 12 minutes, until fish is opaque throughout and skin is crisp. 

Remove from oven and top with oregano and lemon zest. Spoon yogurt sauce onto each plate and top with potatoes and fish, then sprinkle with sea salt.

 

Spiced Salmon Kebabs

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1-1/2 pounds skinless salmon fillet, preferably wild, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 lemons, very thinly sliced into rounds

2 tablespoons olive oil

 

Mix oregano, sesame seeds, cumin, salt and red pepper flakes in a small bowl to combine. Set aside.

Beginning and ending with salmon, thread salmon and folded lemon slices onto eight pairs of parallel skewers to make eight kebabs total. Brush with oil and season with reserved spice mixture.

Grill over medium heat for five to eight minutes, turning occasionally, until fish is opaque throughout.

 

Roast Salmon and Broccoli With Chile-Caper Vinegarette

1-1/2 pounds broccoli, cut into florets

4 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

4 6-ounce skinless salmon fillets

1 red Fresno chile or jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced into rings, seeds removed if desired

2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

2 tablespoons drained capers

 

Toss broccoli and 2 tablespoons oil on a large rimmed baking sheet.Season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 400-degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, tossing occasionally, until browned and crisp-tender.

Remove baking sheet from oven. Rub salmon with 1 tablespoon oil, then season with salt and pepper. Push broccoli to edges of baking sheet and place salmon in the center. Roast another 10 to 15 minutes, until salmon is opaque throughout.

Combine chile, vinegar and a pinch of salt in small bowl and let sit about 10 minutes, until chiles are slightly softened. Mix in capers and remaining oil, then season with salt and pepper.

Serve salmon and broccoli drizzled with chile vinaigrette.

 

 

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