The Dish on Fish from Mark Bittman with Recipes

Farmed or wild caught? Sustainable or overfished? Deciding which seafood to eat is a treacherous business. Mark Bittman guides us through the shoals with his favorite recipes

by Mark Bittman
fish image
SARDINES Compared with the ones that come in a tin, these Pacific specimens, grilled or broiled, are a taste revelation.
Photograph: Christopher Testani
  • Cooked rice, optional
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, sliced lengthwise into strips
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 or 4 large cleaned longfin squid (about ½ pound), cut into rings
  • ½ cup basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons peanuts or cashews
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced scallions or chives, for garnish

1. When you’re ready to cook, have all the ingredients prepared, including a serving dish and cooked rice, if you’re making any. Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the celery, bell pepper, onion, garlic and ginger. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl.

2. Add the squid to the pan, and cook for about a minute, stirring constantly. Return the vegetables to the pan, along with the basil leaves, and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer. Add the peanuts, a splash of water, the lime juice, soy sauce and sesame oil. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary. Garnish with the scallions, and serve hot, over rice.

Poached Tilapia (Or Catfish) With Ginger And Soy Sauce

Fishing method:U.S. farmed.

Tilapia and catfish have mild, firm flesh that’s great for poaching.

MBA rating: Best Choice

Prep time: 28 minutes
Cooking time: 10 to 17 minutes
Serves 4

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2/3 cup sake or water
  • 4 fillets tilapia or catfish (about 1½ pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped scallions, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 dried or fresh chile, optional

1. Put a deep, 12-inch (or larger) skillet over medium heat. Add the vegetable oil and sesame oil, along with the minced ginger and garlic; cook until sizzling, about 2 minutes.

2. Combine the sugar, soy sauce and sake in a small bowl.

3. Add fish fillets to the skillet, flesh side down. Add the soy sauce mixture, scallions, cilantro, rice vinegar and chile. Adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles, but not furiously. Cook 8 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets, turning as the liquid thickens to coat the fish with a brown glaze. Add more water if the liquid looks too thick. Garnish with scallions and cilantro, and serve immediately.

MARK BITTMAN is a food writer and opinion columnist at the New York Times. He is the author of Fishand, most recently, The Food Matters Cookbook.

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First published in the September 2012 issue

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