baked salmon filte with green beans

Make It - Cook It

Try our simple fish recipe

There are a number of television ads at the moment trying to kid you that fish is difficult to cook and takes ages to prepare. Hah! Try our simple and highly adaptable recipe – that works for all sorts of fish and with a range of tasty sauce options. And make those advertisers eat their words

There are only 2 rules worth remembering when it comes to cooking fish.

  1. Make sure it’s fresh (and that can include freshly defrosted).
  2. Don’t over cook it!

Some people are spooked by the bones, but there are a whole range of fillets to choose from, so you can park the whole bone business. Fresh fish is shiny, feels plump and moist and doesn’t smell particularly fishy. If you haven’t got a reliable source of fresh fish – buy frozen.

And experiment with different varieties. Cod is being over fished. But Pollock is a great alternative. I’m a personal fan of Coley, which isn’t as white as Cod but is extremely tasty. Salmon is a good standby and you can find both wild and farmed salmon in most supermarkets.

Ideally, fish is cooked enough to eat when the flesh has turned from translucent to semi-opaque at the centre and the flakes easily separate all the way through. You need to keep an eye on fish when you’re cooking it, so it doesn’t dry out.

One of the easiest ways to cook fish is to wrap it in a parcel made from greaseproof paper or baking parchment. I like the basic recipe below for a number of reasons, not least the minimum amount of waste. A lot of pre-prepared fish recipes come in a massive amount of very undegradable packing. With this recipe you just have a little paper to throw away. Are you thinking outside the bin?

I’m working with fillets but you can wrap and bake whole fish, such as trout. I’ve even done a massive whole salmon this way. The larger the piece of fish – the longer the cooking time.

Step 1 – wash and dress your fillets

raw fish in baking parchment for a simple fish recipeWhile you’re doing this bit, preheat the over to 200c (Gas Mk 6). Rinse the fish well, pat dry and then place in the centre of your greaseproof paper with a littke oil to stop it sticking and your choice of flavourings. I’ve chosen slices of lemon and sprigs of oregano and olive oil, but you can also try:

  1. Finely chopped ginger and red chilli with a dash of soy and some toasted sesame oil.
  2. Minced garlic, a slice of tomato and a sprinkle of cumin, with a little vegetable oil.
  3. Lime and dill – plus a tiny dash of white wine.
  4. Lemon and tarragon – and a teaspoon of good quality mayonnaise.
  5. Oil the underside of the fish and smear the top with pesto – red or green.

Step 2 – wrap and cook

fish wrapped and ready to place in the over for a simple fish recipeWrap the fish and place in an oven proof dish or on a baking tray. Don’t allow the paper to come in contact with the upper side of the fish. You can use string to tie it but I tend to put a double pleat in the paper where I bring it together and then tuck the two open ends under the fish, as if wrapping a present. The weight of the fish then keeps the parcel from opening. Place the parcel in the centre of the oven.

Cooking time depends on the thickness of the fillet but assume about 10 to 15 minutes per inch, depending on how well cooked you want it. I like mine a little underdone.  Better to check and pop it back rather than risk overcooking it.

Step 3 – take it out of the oven and serve

fish removed from over for our simple fish recipeThat’s it. You can re-dress the fish with a little more oil and lemon. It works really well with a nice green vegetable and perhaps a new boiled new potatoes. Oh and a glass or two of wine.


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There are 4 comments

  1. Posted by starrygal on March 6, 2012 at 7:23pm

    I'm quite terrified of cooking fish, but this sounds easy - I'm going to give it a try!

  2. Posted by Anne Caborn on March 12, 2012 at 10:12am

    Oh do. Let me know how you get on. I used to hate cooking fish. In fact I hated fish, period, after all the horrible things they used to do with it in school meals but now I'm a great fan. And it's so quick.

  3. Posted by Lina on May 31, 2012 at 1:54pm

    Anne, you forgot rosemary! Try also rosemary as alternative of oregano, adding some gaerlic an pepper (and salt if the fish is frozen). It's lovely! ciao Lina

  4. Posted by Anne Caborn on May 31, 2012 at 2:20pm

    Rosemary. Of course. You could also grind some young rosemary up with the garlic and salt, mix with a little olive oil and spread over the fish like pesto. Might be good with fresh mackerel.