Monday, June 3, 2013

Quick and Easy Summer Fish

My apartment doesn't have air conditioning. I'm not complaining - not yet, anyway, but check back with me in July - because it's just the way it is, but it does mean that as it has started getting hot and humid in DC, I've had to made adjustments to my normal routine. Exhibit A: cooking dinner.

The last thing I want to do at the end of a muggy day is stand over the stove or oven for an hour while preparing a meal. There's tons of inspiration out there if you want to make an easy chilled dinner, but the recipes don't often satisfy my need to feel like I've created a dish rather than just assembled it. I could eat a simple plate of layered mozzarella, tomato, avocado, and basil almost any night in the summer, but I also want to put a little work into my dinner. So what how do I square that with the discomfort of slaving over a hot stove on a summer day? Quick-baked white fish!

This really is the easiest and most flexible way to cook fish; you can use almost any fish and you can experiment with the basic recipe to make it whatever you want. Below is the recipe I start with, but I'll include links to (and, since you know how awful my food photography is, pictures from) a couple other options. From start to finish, these recipes shouldn't take more than 30 minutes - and, when you sit down to eat, you'll still be cool!

Simple Baked Fish
serves 2

2 filets of white fish (I love using tilapia)
1 lemon
1 tbs butter
salt and pepper to taste
parchment paper (or you can use aluminum foil)

Preheat oven to 400°f. Lay out a sheet of parchment paper and place two small pats of the butter about 5 inches apart on the paper. Place a filet of fish over each piece of butter and then squeeze the lemon on top. Salt and pepper to taste, and zest the de-juiced lemon over the fish. Divide the remaining butter over the two filets and then fold up the parchment paper into a parcel around the fish. (You can use paperclips or toothpicks to keep the package wrapped up.) Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish; you want it almost fully cooked, but remember that it will continue baking a bit even after you take it out of the oven while it sits. Let the fish rest for five minutes while you prepare your sides and then serve and enjoy!

I ate my tilapia with cold leftover quinoa and flash-sautéed sugar snap peas, but almost anything will be delicious with this easy fresh dish - baked spinach and tomatoes, as above, or roasted asparagus, since the oven is on anyway. Because of all the gorgeous juices that you'll find in the bottom of your parchment/foil packet, you could also just have a chunk of crusty bread on hand, ready to sop up all the yumminess!

Have you ever prepared fish like this?  I'd love to hear your variations.  The forecast this week indicates that I'll be making a twist on this dish in the next few days...


  1. That is exactly how I prepared fish last year as an au pair. I had never cooked fish before, so their mother taught me. Butter, lemon, seasoning, foil packet, oven for 20 minutes (sometimes the salmon was pretty thick and needed 25 minutes). Done! Easy to clean up too!

  2. Confession: I don't really like seafood. But because I know it's so good for me, and because I'm not a huge meat-eater, I really want to get into fish. Any suggestions on a fish that doesn't necessarily taste "fishy" - I'd be willing to try it because these recipes look so quick + yummy (if I didn't hate the fish). Thanks for sharing! xoxo

  3. I've been meaning to try some kind of fish "en papillote" for awhile now and this looks like a perfect recipe! I'll add some asparagus and other veggies to steam while the fish cooks. Anything that minimizes time I have to stand near a hot stove in the summer is a perfect recipe.

  4. Yum! I have this weird love hate relationship with fish. I LOVE raw fish, like sashimi. But as soon as fish is cooked and has this "fishy" taste to it (lol, good descriptive word right?), I can't do it! I've been wanting to give some fish recipes a try and I love how simple this is!

  5. I love preparing fish this way. Adding chopped herbs to the butter and lemon is a good addition!

  6. hm! the first thing I'd say is that fresh fish (really fresh, like from a fishmonger not the grocery store even if they call it fresh) will almost always taste less fishy. you could try tilapia, which I don't think is very fishy, and I hear good things about grouper! you could also try grilling tuna stakes, which is fun :)

  7. so apparently halibut is just as good or even better than cod when use for fish&chips! YUM.

  8. haha check you out with your French - love it :)

  9. yes! I was so thankful for my window box of parsley when I made this :)

  10. Oh, hands down a MILLION TIMES better than cod. Cod's just cheap so it's the go-to. Halibut is, seriously, one of the best fish (maybe THE best) out there. It's just expensive.... :(

  11. Sounds delicious Betsy!

    I'm not a huge fish eater or preparer but we often have salmon (so, so fresh in Norway!) I ate quite a bit of white fish in Gabon although never prepared it at home - it didn't come as a nicely wrapped filet there and there was no way I'd be doing it!

  12. Looks delicious... I too have no ac in my apartment and have to really change up my cooking style in the summer!

  13. yum!! i love any kinda of fish recipes! looks delicious!

  14. fish is our favorite go-to meal. We usually like grill ours since it gives us an excuse to sit outside while it cooks :)


    I usually pop it into the oven with a dash of olive oil and breadcrumbs with herbs. Then I eat it over brown rice (yay arsenic!) and some kind of steamed veg on the side. And i make 3ish filets at once, because i eat it cold over salad or in a wrap the next 1-2 days. Delicious!

  16. Paul (my husband) generally avoids fish and seafood like the plague, but I love it, and he's trying to eat healthier meats. He found this recipe and now we make it ALL THE TIME. It's amazingly delicious hot or cold and I've served it when we've had guests several times and each time I have to email the recipe link! There are A LOT of picky eaters in my family, but this one's a winner across the board- you might try it, if you want, and let me know!

  17. Jay- check this link I also posted to Eliza below- it's our favorite salmon marinade, and a serious crowd pleaser! (and we used muscovado sugar in place of brown sugar in England, and post-England, since muscovado is so much better!)

  18. Thanks! Will give it a try.

    Joe's favourite is this one... it's pretty good too :)

  19. Haddock is the way to go in GB. Haddock all the way. Haddock every day. Gooooooo, Haddock!

  20. Oh, that one would be a winner in our house as well- thanks!!

  21. I've been eating so much fish and shrimp lately! It's definitely perfect for the hot summers. This looks yummy!

  22. it throws me off my game! or it challenges me to experiment in exciting ways... depending on if I'm feeling positive or grumpy about it all :P

  23. haha I made three tonight! by accident - I thought I defrosted two but it was in fact three - so I will be eating salmon all week.

  24. Totally! Every Summer I get to a point where I'm like, ok I need to change it up. It really does make you think :)

  25. I'll have to bake my fish like this next time. We have fish every week. Yummm.

  26. Bailie @ The Hemborg WifeJune 4, 2013 at 5:53 AM

    I have done this with salmon, sliced lemon and tomatoes. It was amazing!

  27. Heh, I know exactly what you mean by the lack of air conditioning!

    That recipe looks lovely; thank you for sharing it. :)

  28. this is the perfect recipe for summer!! i am definitely going to try it .. perfect for those super hot summer days coming up ;)

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