March 6, 2011

Go-to meal: Easy fish dish

We all have a few of these recipes up our sleeves, that we pull out when we do not know what to cook, is pressed for time, or just want to cook something familiar that we know the family is going to eat. I call it my go-to meal, or my reliable fallback, and sometimes it becomes my food rut, when I simply cannot get out of cooking the same old dishes over and over again. I am going to slowly post my go-to meals, and I'm actually curious to see how many I end up with!

Kicking off this series is an easy fish dish. We first encountered it at a buffet when vacationing at Rocky Point, Mexico. R tried the dish first and then set off to get us more, urging me to try it as it was really delish. Oh it was good, fresh fish, very flavorful, and I suspect the sunny blue skies and fresh oceanic breeze enhanced the savoring experience! When we got home, I decided to figure out how to make this easy fish dish, which can be named however you fancy, but we call it "That olive-tomato fish dish."

The beauty of this dish is that it uses few ingredients, and can be simply and quickly whipped up. You can of course fancy it up and I'm going to talk about that. You can use any mild flavored fish. I tend to use tilapia, which is normally farm-raised, and I have to say when you get it from a source that is responsibly farmed, you can taste the difference in quality and taste. Recently I bought some farm-raised tilapia when Whole Foods had a sale, after reading about why theirs was different, and we definitely enjoyed the pristine taste of the fish. I am always able to find some variety of wild-caught fish at Trader Joe's at good prices.

The other ingredients in this dish are: minced garlic, tomatoes, italian parsley, sliced black olives.

When tomatoes are in season, I chop them up and cook them down to a yummy sauce (with some sliced garlic added). But when tomatoes start to look pale and simply not appealing during the off-season, or when I want it all fast, I reach for a jar of tomato sauce. I try to avoid canned tomatoes (and canned food in general) due to the dangers of BPA in tin can linings leaking into the food. Instead I use pasta sauce in glass jars if I need tomato sauce quick for this fish dish. Sometimes I get the variety with mushrooms added, so I save even the job of chopping yet another item! For the olives, I also get those in glass jars from Trader Joe's and then slice them up, or chop them coarse and quick when pressed for time.

So, here's the recipe, with no absolute measures (that's how you cook it fast!):

Easy Olive-Tomato Fish Dish
  • 2 pounds tilapia (or other fish)
  • minced garlic (as much as you love!)
  • 1 glass jar of tomato sauce
  • sliced black olives (as much as you like)
  • italian parsley, chopped (as much as you like)
  1. Mince garlic, chop parsley, rinse the fish and pat dry, then cut into chunks (about 2-inch is good).
  2. Season fish lightly with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet (or pot if preferred), and when hot, add the minced garlic and saute quickly till light golden brown.
  4. Immediately add the olives and continue to saute.
  5. Add fish pieces, sauteing a minute or so, and then add tomato sauce. Add more salt and/or pepper if desired.
  6. Let dish simmer for about 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning if needed. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

I serve this with steamed white rice. I do wish this is a one-skillet dish but the vegetables is rather lacking. I don't think those sliced olives count much towards the desirable daily vegetable quotient, and thought italian parsley do contain a multitude of minerals, you wouldn't want to be adding an entire chunk of it. So, what about the vegetables?

Sometimes, I put some vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, sugar peas) on top of the steamer and let it cook at the same time as the rice. If I'm really tired, I just slice up a bowl of cucumbers and carrots and serve it raw or quick pickled. If I am lucky to have pickled beets or kimchi in the fridge I pull those out. Very often we do a easy vegetable dish, which is simply blanching green beans, cauliflower or broccoli, and then tossing with a good olive oil and sprinkled with good sea salt. It may sound bland, but I find that a good vegetable dish does not demand a whole lot of tinkering or even a plethora of spices or seasoning. Usually a good olive oil and sea salt brings the flavor out nicely, and I like that it keeps the palette simple so we can enjoy the fish dish better.

As for fancying up this fish dish, you can slice up some onions, and then slowly caramelize it in a separate skillet as the fish dish simmer, then folding the delicious caramelized onions with the fish dish before serving it up. You can also "beef up" this dish by sauteing some chopped mushrooms and zucchini in olive oil and herbs, and then folding it into the fish. This is a great simple dish to experiment with! Let me know if you do, and I would love to hear your simple vegetable dish ideas if you'd share!

No comments:

Post a Comment