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Can you help a recovering picky eater?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I grew up a picky eater (like many people do), but unlike most people, I have yet to grow out of that "phase". I'm still a college student, and I'm just begin to eat real food on a regular basis (I still eat fast food WAY more than I should, but it's slowly coming down). I'm getting better about veggies, and I've never really had a problem with the farmyard inhabitants, and I've even learned that I enjoy shellfish.

Regular fish, on the other hand, is still outside my comfort zone as an eater and as a cook. I am hoping to change that. Can someone recommend to me a good introductory fish dish, one that doesn't taste too "fishy", but also isn't just hiding the fish flavor with sauce or marinade? I will say that I am OK eating fish'n'chips on occasion, and the fish I've found least objectionable was (I believe) trout. I really like strong flavors (black pepper, garlic, heat). I can cook it on the stove-top, propane grill, or in the oven - I would even be open to a stew that isn't too fish-y. My cooking skills are basic, but I go slowly and pay attention to details. I have access to a couple of reliable fishmarkets (I live in the Bay Area, and a few of my friends won't stop talking about how nice the fish up here is). I'd rather not have to learn how to butcher and clean a fish at this stage, but if the first dish goes well I'll DEFINITELY be moving in that direction. I'm willing to try something new, but I really would like to be eased into this fishy business.

Also, the girlfriend gets to help me eat the results, and her tastes are similar to mine. Keeping all that in mind, do you think you guys can suggest a place to begin? Thanks in advance!
RJM

Someone told me that the fastest way to lose weight is by eating home-cooked meals.

They aren't eating what I'm cooking.
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RJM

Someone told me that the fastest way to lose weight is by eating home-cooked meals.

They aren't eating what I'm cooking.
Reply
post #2 of 13
For starters, I'd go with a mild fish. That would include tilapia (which has zero fishy taste---not much taste at all, when it comes to it) and, my favorite, cod. Lot's of others. Basically we're talking about white, flaky fish. So-called black cod (actually, sablefish) is another good one, but has gotten rather expensive. And sea bass fits that mold as well.

Unfortunately, really bold flavors cover up the taste of mild fish, and the fish just serves as a platform for those other flavors. So you want to cut back on them, a bit, to achieve your goal.

One of many recipes that accomplishes this is Le Bernardin Restaurant's great:

Black Bass with Port Wine

1 cup ruby port
1/2 cup Sherry vinegar
1 stick butter, softened
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Four 6-oz sea bass filets (or substitute similar fish)
1/4 cup five-spice powder
4 tbls peanut oil
1 1/2 cups wild muishrooms, sliced
2 large shallots, finely chopped
1 tbls minced fresh parsley
1 tbls fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped

Boil the port in a heavy saucepan over moderately high heat until thick and syrupy; there should be just enough liquid to thinly coat the bottom of the pan. Stir in the vinegar and boil until syrupy. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet heat the vegetable oil over moderately high heat. Season fish filets lightly with salt and pepper. Coat each filet on both sides with the five-spice powder. Saute the filets in the hot pan, turning once, until crusty on the outside and opaque throughout. Transfer to a platter and keep warm.

In a large skillet, heat the peanut oil over moderately high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and browned. Add the shallots, parsley and thyme and cook until the shallots are translucent. Season with salt and pepper.

Arrange filets on a bed of mushrooms. Top with the sauce.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #3 of 13
Try something simple perhaps, one of the fish as suggested by KYH above, moderately hot pan, half oil half butter till foaming. S&P the fish fillet, fry few minutes per side until done (when it's all gone white) , not too long. Serve on a bed of mash, side of boiled beans & carrots, or a tossed salad, some tartare sauce on top. Wedge of lemon to squeeze on top. Easy, quick, healthy...most importantly, tasty.

Once you get used to fish, there is so much that can be done with it. Start slow, then build up your repetoire.

P.S. Nice recipe KYH - I'll steal that one if you don't mind :thumb:
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #4 of 13
For a beginner who likes fish and chips, i would say to roast the fish at a very high temp, having spread it outside on the skin and inside the cavity with garlic and parsley and maybe another herb, like marjoram.
Roast it so it gets a crispy skin and that is very appealing. A little red pepper flakes can be good there, if you like it.
Add some potatoes to the roasting pan, use a low sided pan so the fish crisps and doesn;t steam, and use parchment paper on it so the potatoes don;t stick. I usually do this on the base of the oven to get maximum crispness. Don't overcook the fish though or it will be dry.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
You folks are just GREAT!

I think I'll try this tonight - it seems simple, quick, and non-threatening. If it goes well, I'll move onto KY Heirloomer's suggestion.

Siduri, what sort of fish would be good for roasting as you described?
RJM

Someone told me that the fastest way to lose weight is by eating home-cooked meals.

They aren't eating what I'm cooking.
Reply
RJM

Someone told me that the fastest way to lose weight is by eating home-cooked meals.

They aren't eating what I'm cooking.
Reply
post #6 of 13
Like you, one of my sons is trying to enjoy fish and likes fish n chips and smoked salmon.
His latest triumph was griddled tuna, served med rare. he says it doesnt taste too fishy. I cook it simply on a smoking hot griddle,after rubbing with S&P and olive oil.
He's also getting into spicy hot smoked salmon, and Teryiaki salmon. Baby steps, but we're getting there
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #7 of 13
One thing I should have mentioned, H-S, is that if there's a fishy smell to the fish, it's not fresh. Fish should have a clean smell of the ocean, is all. Or, as Emeril likes to say, "if the fish smells fishy, go for the lamb."

What you do have are mild, medium, and strong tasting fishes. As a general rule, the oilier the fish the stronger the flavor. Thus, white flaky fish, such as cod, haddock, and the flat fishes tend to be mild, because they aren't very oily. But something with a lot of oil, such as bluefish and the various tunas, will be strong tasting.

So, one of the secrets is to find a good fishmonger, who can help assure you get the freshest fish possible, and who can make recommendations as to choices and preparation. While this can be tough in many parts of the country, you should have little trouble finding one in the Bay area.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #8 of 13
P.S. Nice recipe KYH - I'll steal that one if you don't mind :thumb: It's a wonderful recipe, DC, that works with a fair number of fishes. But it's not mine. Belongs to the great Chef Eric Ripert, of the Le Bernardin restaurant.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Well, I think that went really well. I ended up going with tilapia, as it just looked the best at the counter. I quickly pan-fried it in butter and oil as DC suggested - I ended up with a good brown color and opaque flesh in something like 2-3 minutes a side. The only hitch was turning the fish - I primarily use stainless steel clad cookware, and turning the fish was a bit tricky. I was using a fish turner, and I did manage to keep everything in once piece, but I am wondering if that is normal, or a sign I should be working on my technique?

With the fish I made mashed potatoes with spinach, shallots, and parmesan cheese and asparagus with lemon butter sauce. Just because we never finish a whole bottle of wine, I made a pan sauce in the frying pan using some of the fond from the fish and wine, lemon juice, cream, and butter. My girlfriend really enjoyed the dinner, and so did I.

I noticed that the tilapia had no noticeable smell at the fish counter, and when cooked there was almost no "fishy" taste - instead it was very mellow, like a cousin to chicken breast (though far more tender and less chicken tasting, if that makes sense). Am I right in thinking that THAT was the actual fist taste, while the "fishy" taste I've experience before is a product of lowgrade seafood? Or is tilapia just THAT mellow in flavor?

Also, thanks to everyone posting in this thread. Your advice really made this a tasty success, and has motivated me to try my luck with further fish endeavors.
RJM

Someone told me that the fastest way to lose weight is by eating home-cooked meals.

They aren't eating what I'm cooking.
Reply
RJM

Someone told me that the fastest way to lose weight is by eating home-cooked meals.

They aren't eating what I'm cooking.
Reply
post #10 of 13
Congrats, H-S. Glad it worked out for you.

As to the tilapia, I'd say a little of both. Tilapia is often called the ideal fish for Americans, because, as a rule, we don't like strong tasting fish. It's very mild, and usually takes on the flavors of whatever it's cooked with.

Next time, try making the same dish with a different fish, and see how that works out for you. Sea bass, for instance, would work very nicely with that technique and sauce, but bring a bit more of its own flavor to the table.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #11 of 13
You ask what kind of fish... unfortunately, I don;t know names of fish, and in particular, have no idea of the names of fish in the states. Here there are different fish, and the same fish with different names, and dictionaries are not usually very useful. I almost always have only cooked fish when staying with my inlaws at the beach, and they'd get the fish directly from the fisherman. Sorry, i can;t help there, but maybe others will give you more expert advice.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
post #12 of 13
Turning the fish can be tricky, keeping it in one piece. With the non-oily flaky fish in particular, they love to crack :) So glad it worked out well for you both! You might try using a fish slice/spatula underneath, then use the world's oldest tool, your other hand, to support the top of the fish as you gently turn it. Fish should be turned only once, or you can end up with a sad looking mess.

Well Done!
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
Reply
post #13 of 13
RJM,

Very happy it went well for you. You had a few questions afterwards. For instance, Turning fish can be pretty tricky, although tilapia is one of the easier ones to turn. So, "both." That is, it IS normal, AND you should be working on your technique.

Fresher is generally milder, but not all fish -- no matter how fresh -- is mild. Some have a quite a bit of their own character, and smoe are just plain strong. As a general rule, the "oily" fishes are the most assertive. Tilapia is particularly mild.

BDL
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