6 months ago if you asked me if I’d ever share fish recipes on my website, I would have laughed. A lot.
Fish is a family favorite when we travel, but not at home.
When our family explores new cities, we almost always gravitate to seafood restaurants. There’s really nothing better than well prepared fish dishes. However, we’ve never felt totally confident cooking it at home.
Until now. A conversation in Seattle, changed everything.
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Last November we spent 10 days in the Pacific Northwest. In coastal towns like Seattle and Vancouver we ate fish for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And, of course, we loved it. My 12-year old posed a question to my husband, “Why don’t we eat fish more at home?”
After thinking for a minute and being completely candid, my husband answered “I don’t have much experience cooking it.”
This led to a long conversation with the ultimate question being “why not?”
Seriously, why not? We all enjoy fish. So why not learn to prepare it?
Just like that, a new year’s resolution was born. Our family resolved to learn to cook fish in 2020.
More specifically, we decided to try a new fish recipe every week.
That’s right, 53 weeks of fish! (Fun Fact: That’s not a typo- I just learned there are actually 53 weeks in 2020.)
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So here we are- 9 weeks in- and I’m excited to share what we’ve learned so far. And I’ll also share what recipes we’ve used (with brutal honesty on how we felt about it!)
First of all, if you’re going to learn to cook fish you need a few things:
- Filet Knife: We’ve used ours almost every week. Most fish is very delicate and the shape of this knife seems necessary to work with the raw fish.
- Cedar Grilling Planks: We’ve used these twice now and they add a really nice flavor. Plus, they make for really easy clean up because you just toss the plank. In addition to using them on a grill, you can even use them in the oven.
- OdorShield Trash Bags: We learned the hard way- the packaging you purchase fish in REALLY stinks after a day or two. We bought these OdorShield trash bags and it’s really helped!
- Fish Spatula: We also learned the hard way that not all spatulas are created equal. Again, fish is really delicate and it’s worth buying a spatula specifically designed to handle fish.
Once you’ve invested in these items, you’re ready to learn to cook fish!
Here are the fish recipes our family has tried so far. (I added our thoughts on each one for reference.)
Week 1: Parmesan Encrusted Cod
This recipe actually calls for Halibut, but I had a total brain fail at the store. Woops! It didn’t give Brent much confidence in this whole learning to cook fish project. We used our cast iron skillet and put it directly into the oven. All 4 of us thought it was delicious (even making it with Cod instead of Halibut!)
Week 2: Baked Garlic Butter Salmon
Confession: We’ve made this salmon recipe before. A lot.
But this was during Miller’s birthday week and it was a special request from him. There’s no big secret to this recipe. It turns out great every time. Definitely a family favorite.
Week 3: Cajun Catfish
No recipe linked on this one because we bought pre-seasoned catfish from our favorite Butcher’s Market. We cooked it in the cast iron skillet with a little butter. I think next time if I can’t find the same pre-seasoned catfish I will use Slap Ya Mama All Natural Cajun Seasoning (we’ve used on other things and it’s delicious!) We all really liked the cajun flavor on the fish. *This was my 12-year old’s favorite so far.
Week 4: Shrimp and Grits
Shrimp and grits is my all-time favorite food. And when we’re traveling, I can’t not order it if it’s on a menu.
So I was super excited for Brent to learn to cook it. However, I didn’t preview his recipe choice and I didn’t love this particular version. Don’t get me wrong, the flavor was incredible. But it was too rich. I need vegetables and a spicy sauce to accompany my shrimp and grits.
I’ve searched high and low for a recipe that resembles my favorite restaurant shrimp and grits and I think next time we’ll try this one: Old Charleston Style Shrimp and Grits.
Week 5: Pineapple Shrimp and Peppers
I got in a little bit of trouble for buying shrimp two weeks in a row. But, it’s my favorite and I’m the grocery shopper in the family!
This recipe was so easy that our 12-year old wants to make it by herself next time. The flavor combination was incredible. And, for a seafood meal, it was very affordable. We will definitely make this one again soon.
Week 6: Lemon Butter Halibut
After messing up the recipe on week 1, I had to redeem myself purchasing halibut.
Although it doesn’t suggest it in the recipe, we we itching to use our Cedar Grilling Planks. So we did. And I’d highly recommend it because it added awesome flavor to this dish. We have a large baking sheet just big enough to fit 2 planks. For this recipe you’ll definitely want something to catch the runoff butter if you’re making it in the oven.
This seafood recipe gets 2 thumbs up from everyone in our family!
Week 7: Pan Seared Ahi Tuna Steaks
I have to confess, I probably ruined this meal for everyone but myself. I insisted the tuna be cooked to medium. Everyone else would have prefered rare, but I just couldn’t do it.
Brent did not use a specific recipe for this meal, but he watched about 30 You-Tube videos. Basically he got our Cast Iron Skillet extremely hot, and then seared the tunu for about 3-4 minutes on each side. It turned out okay. We’ve all had better Ahi Tuna at restaurants when we’ve been traveling. I’m not sure we’d try this at home again.
Week 8: Monkfish in a Lemon Butter Sauce
Holy cow, this fish and this recipe are legit!
Honestly, I was SO against cooking monkfish. I saw one in Seattle at the fish market, and man was it ugly. Naturally, I wasn’t sure I could eat it. But the kids insisted we try it. (Don’t worry- it’s not pictured here!)
We were not prepared for the monkfish to puff up, and we ended up overcooking it. Like a lot. Ours was pretty rubbery, but even with that texture I can go on and on about the flavor. We are all already looking forward to making this again soon.
*The recipe says to cook it for 15-30 minutes which is quite a range. We ended up doing ours close to 30, but next time we’ll error on the side of too short!
Week 9: Cedar Plank Salmon
Salmon is almost cheating for us because we’ve always cooked salmon. But it’s also a family favorite. And it was on sale at the Fresh Market when we stopped in. We planned on getting something different, but the kids begged and it was hard to turn down a good deal.
We prepared this fish exactly according to this specific recipe. And it was a huge hit!
So fish lovers…what should we make next? We still have 44 more weeks left in 2020 and we’re really excited to try some new recipes. Leave a comment with your favorite fish recipes!
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