Listener Question: Herbs & Fish
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Jimmy contacted me at the radio station wanting information on what kinds of herbs go well with fish.  He watches what he eats and mostly steams his foods. So, I created a list of fish and suggested herbs for Jimmy that is at the bottom of this page. 

I have also included information about finding, handling and cooking all kinds of different fish and seafood. I prefer wild caught, fresh fish and  recommend working with the fish monger at the grocery store to determine the freshest fish available.  Though I say it is jest, there is no fish species called "stix".


When shopping, purchase seafood last and keep it cold during the trip home. What to look for at the store:

-Fresh whole fish should have:

-- A shiny surface with tightly adhering scales.
-- Gills that are deep red or pink, free of slime, mucus and off-odor.
-- Clean shiny belly cavity with no cuts or protruding bones.
-- A mild aroma, similar to the ocean.
-- Eyes clear and not sunk in.

-Fresh steaks, fillets and loins should have:

-- A translucent look.
-- Flesh that is firm and not separating.
-- A mild odor, similar to the ocean.
-- No discoloration.
-- Packaging that keeps them from being bent in an unnatural position

Preparation and handling raw fish and seafood:

-- Keep raw and cooked seafood separate to prevent bacterial cross-contamination.
-- After handling raw seafood thoroughly wash knives, cutting surfaces, sponges and your hands with hot soapy water.
-- Always marinate seafood in the refrigerator.
-- Discard marinade; it contains raw juices which may harbor bacteria.
 --When marinade is needed for basting reserve a portion before adding raw seafood.

 Cooking fish and seafood:

-- The general rule is 10 minutes per inch of thickness, at the thickest part of the fillet or steak, at 400-450 degrees F. The fish should temp at 145°F.
-- If fish is cooked in parchment, foil or a sauce, add 5 minutes to the total cooking time.
-- Fillets less than 1/2 inch thick do not need to be turned during cooking.
 --Fish cooks quickly. Do not overcook.
 --Fish is done when the flesh becomes opaque and flakes easily when tested with a fork.
-- Poaching, steaming, baking, broiling, sautéing, microwaving are excellent low-fat cooking methods, if you do not add high fat   ingredients.
 --Marinate in your favorite salad dressing prior to cooking.
 --Broil, bake, steam or microwave, then cube and add to pasta or salad greens for a delicious salad.
 --Broil or grill with lime-butter and seasoned salt.
 --Oil the grill to prevent fish from sticking.
-- Bake whole fish with a crab or shrimp stuffing.
 --Add leftover fish in broken pieces to salads, soups, stuffing or sauces.  

Fish/Seafood recommended for steaming:  Fish fillets or steaks, shellfish, whole fish.

Steamed seafood is prepared by placing a rack over boiling water in a covered pan. No added fat is needed for a great health-wise choice. For a complete dinner in minutes, steam vegetables beside the seafood.

  1. Arrange the seafood in a steamer. Season with salt and pepper and recommended herbs (see list below)
  2. Bring the water to a boil in the steamer, add the seafood on the rack (be careful that the seafood does not touch the water) and cover tightly with the lid.
  3. Steam the seafood until it is cooked in the center. Cooked seafood turns from translucent to opaque in the center when done.

 Lean, white flesh fish/seafood is recommended for poaching, sautéing, pan frying and deep frying:

Blue Crab
Dungeness Crab

Northern Lobster
Ocean, northern and freshwater Perch
Pike (Walleye)
Pollock (Atlantic)

Red Snapper
Snow Crab
Tuna (Skipjack)
Tuna (Yellowfin)

Moderately fatty fish is amenable to most cooking methods with the possible exception of deep frying:

Bass (Freshwater)
Blue Mussels
Catfish (though catfish is very tasty deep fried!)
Oysters (Eastern)
Rainbow Trout
Salmon (Chum)
Salmon (Pink)

Sea Trout
Smelt (traditionally deep fried)
Striped Bass

Spanish Mackerel
Orange Roughy
(deep fried fillets make fabulous sandwiches!)
Salmon (Atlantic)
Salmon (Coho)
Salmon (Sockeye)

Lake Trout
Bluefin Tuna

Fatty fish is best with dry cooking methods such as grilling and broiling:

King Salmon

Atlantic Mackerel

 Suggested herbs and spices to cook with fish/seafood:

Cod- Fennel Seed, Lemon, Parsley, Thyme

Clams- Garlic, Marjoram, Thyme

Crab- Basil, Tarragon, Thyme

Fish casseroles- Celery Seed, Chives, Mustard Seed, Parsley
(white sauce base)

Fish stews- Celery Seed, Chives, Mustard Seed, Parsley
(tomato based stock)

Halibut- Basil, Dill Seed, Fennel Seed, Dill weed, Lemon, Marjoram, Saffron, Summer Savory, Tarragon, Thyme

Lobster- Basil, Tarragon

Mackerel- Basil

Salmon- Basil, Chives, Dill Seed, Dill weed, Lemon, Marjoram, Summer Savory, Tarragon

Salmon (broiled)- Rosemary, Summer Savory, Tarragon

Scallops- Garlic, Dill weed, Marjoram, Thyme

Seafood (creamed)- Marjoram, Oregano

Seafood- Cumin, Cayenne Pepper, Curry Powder, Garlic, Ginger, Tabasco Sauce

Shrimp- Basil, Chives, Garlic, Dill weed, Oregano, Summer Savory, Tarragon

Sole- Chervil, Dill weed, Saffron, Summer Savory, Tarragon, Thyme

Tilapia- Dill weed, lemon, lime, paprika, parsley

Trout- Garlic, Dill weed, Parsley

Tuna- Basil





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