“I don’t want to go out to dinner tonight,” my husband floated his unsolicited opinion several hours before most folks’ stomachs would have gurgled a first grumble.  Maybe it was the fact that I had already made a pancake breakfast and a pasta lunch (going for the home-cooked trifecta, was he?)  Maybe it was the fact that it was early afternoon and I hadn’t left the house except to feed the ducks (and the cupboard was so bare there were dust bunnies where the victuals should have been.)  Maybe this was his sideways pledge to “eat better” after ten days on the road and a public declaration always makes it more official (and most restaurants around here are just not worth the calories?)

Whatever his reasons, I just smiled and said.  Dinner?  No prob.  We’re having fish.


For years, I admit to being intimidated by seafood—choosing, buying, handling, preparing, even eating (bones, yikes!)  In truth, I still resist the lure of the mollusk* but I’ve gotten much less fearful of the merely finned.  Now it’s my go-to protein either in sushi (a typical lunch) or (at dinner) simply broiled in the oven.  It may take some planning to go get the fish but otherwise, it’s much less hassle than, say, a stew or a casserole.  Plus, it cooks much faster, tastes much fresher and doesn’t need many ingredients to pull off.  So, everybody into the water—fish is a great dish!


Fish Tips for the Unschooled**

Find a fishmonger you like and trust.  If it’s summer, they may offer ice to help keep your expensive purchase edible.  I also keep insulated shopping bags in my car to further protect cold foods.  I may be old-school (again! sorry!) but I avoid buying fish on Sundays since most markets are closed.  My fave sushi place in L.A. wasn’t open that day and I figured they would know best.

You can use fish tweezers (not pricey, a couple of bucks) if you want to double-check the fishmonger’s plucking skills.  Run your finger against the grain of the flesh to feel out where any errant bones may be.

Those of us who love fish realize that many species are over-harvested.  You can check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s website or others for guidelines on choosing a fish you can feel good about eating.

Federal guidelines on fish consumption and mercury can be found here.

In addition, U.S. law mandates that fish must be labeled with country of origin.  You can also factor this in when making your purchase.

For overall tips on buying fish, see here.


Fast Fish Times Two

Broiled Salmon

(inspired by an ad from the Norwegian fishing industry)

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 8 minutes

2-4 four-ounce salmon filets, skin on, about the same size and thickness; bones removed

Extra virgin olive oil

Fresh dill

Fresh lemon

Sea salt


Turn on oven broiler.  Place filets skin down on a baking pan.  Slice lemon and squeeze juice over the filets.  Drizzle each with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper then rip some fresh dill off of stems and place on top of the fish.  (Reserve some lemon and dill for serving.)

Broil salmon for approximately four minutes (watch for burning) then carefully tent with tin foil.  Continue broiling until cooked to your preference, generally another 4 minutes or so.

Delicious with warm farro salad in a dill shallot vinaigrette.


Tuna Pepper Steak

Prep time: 1 minute

Cook time: 8 minutes

2 four–ounce tuna steaks

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Black pepper

Heat well-oiled grill pan on med-high. Add tuna steaks; sprinkle with salt and pepper (don’t be shy with the pepper.)  Cook approximately 4 minutes on one side, flip, add pepper and a little more salt, cook 3-4 more minutes or until done to your preference. (Cooking time is mostly a function of the thickness of the steaks.  You will have to keep an eye on them but it’s fast!)

Try with basmati rice and roasted cherry tomatoes.



*A real culinary loss when spending any time in France or Italy, alas.



Copyright 2012, Lori Fontanes