“I don’t like fish!” That’s the decree I hear from so many people I’ve encountered during my years as a dietitian. It’s always disheartening too, as I know- their distaste for fish may not entirely be their fault. It’s likely they’ve had bad experiences. Perhaps it was too “fishy” or too “mushy” or too “bland.” All are fair arguments, because fish can taste pretty awful if not handled properly. Therefore, my challenge is this – learn to cook it yourself and start with this recipe for simple pan-seared turbot filets with Romesco Sauce.
Your involvement means you’ll want it to taste good. After all, who wants to spend time and money on something they’re just going to throw away? Start by picking the right fish. If you’re confused, ask the employees at the grocery store or seafood counter. Next, handle it with love. Fish is delicate and if you are too aggressive with it, it will fall apart. Finally, use the right pan and the right amount of heat and then leave the fish alone while it cooks.
Pan-searing is a simple cooking technique and leads to a perfectly cooked piece of fish almost every time. Follow the steps and don’t be afraid! Even if it sticks to the pan, it’s OK, because I strategically included this delicious red pepper, tomato and almond sauce, which can cover any flaw. You’re welcome!
If you avoid fish, now is the time to give it one more shot. Fish is a great source of protein and most whitefish, like this turbot, are low in fat. By swapping beef for fish, you’ll also be saying goodbye to unwanted saturated fat, a bonus for your heart.
Food Safety Tips: If you plan on buying fresh fish, be sure to purchase it from a reputable grocery store. If the fish is purchased from a case, ask to look at it and smell it. It should look shiny and firm and smell mild and fresh. If buying frozen, ensure that the fish hasn’t gone bad by checking the expiration date. Look at the packaging itself. If there are any signs of tampering or ice crystals, it may be a sign that the fish has been previously thawed and no longer safe to eat. When you get it home, store it properly. Keep fresh fish stored on the bottom shelf of your fridge, preferably resting on ice and keep frozen fish frozen until ready to use, then follow the package directions for safe thawing.
Pan-Seared Turbot Filets with Romesco Sauce
For the romesco:
- 3 whole peeled canned plum tomatoes, sliced in half (about 5 oz)
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 large slice of crusty bread (about 2 oz)
- ¼ cup raw almonds
- 1 cup roasted red peppers (drained if from a jar or can)
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ⅛ teaspoon paprika
- Kosher salt, to taste
For the fish:
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 (4 ounce) skinless fillets of Turbot or other firm, flaky whitefish
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a large sheet pan with 2 equal-sized pieces of parchment paper.
- Spread the tomatoes and garlic onto one sheet parchment paper and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Brush both sides of the bread slice with the remaining olive oil and place on the other piece of parchment. Then spread the almonds next to the bread. Place the pan in the oven, flipping bread over and stirring the almonds with a wooden spoon after 4 minutes. Cook bread and almonds 4 more minutes and remove them from the tray, stir the tomato mixture and continue to cook an additional 15 minutes. Once bread has cooled, tear into 1 inch pieces.
- Transfer the tomatoes and garlic to a blender or bowl of a food processor. Add the roasted red peppers, almonds and bread and pulse until roughly chopped. Add the red wine vinegar and paprika and pulse until relatively smooth. Thin with water if necessary. Season with salt.
- Pat the fish dry with paper towels then season the fish lightly on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Set a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil to the pan and once hot, but not smoking, add the fish, placing the side that used to have skin facing up. Cook 3-4 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. Carefully flip the fish over and cook until fish is done, flakes easily with a fork and internal temperature reaches 145°F, about 2-3 more minutes.
- Place fish on a serving plate and top with Romesco sauce.
- This recipe will make 1 cup of Romesco sauce. Leftover sauce can be frozen or used as a condiment for sandwiches or a dip for fresh vegetables.