Mark Bittman – White Fillet a Dozen Ways –

Mark Bittman – White Fillet a Dozen Ways –

“If you’re serious about eating sustainable fish, you may have given up on the most fundamental of all: the white fillet. After nearly exhausting cod stocks 20 years ago, we have gone through a dozen or more alternatives, from red snapper to orange roughy to so-called Chilean sea bass, and fished them all practically out of existence.

Yunhee Kim for The New York Times Food Stylist: Maggie Ruggiero. Prop Stylist: Deborah Williams.

Now it seems difficult to know which fish are managed well enough to eat without guilt. (As it happens, cod, of all things, isn’t bad right now, as long as it isn’t caught by a trawler.) But if you buy from a reliable store, like Target, Wegmans or Whole Foods, which have adopted seafood-sustainability practices far more effectively than many other major retailers, or consult online sources like the Monterey Bay Aquarium, you can eat white-fleshed fish without guilt.

The next problem is that you may wind up buying a fish with which you’re unfamiliar. Is it cod, catfish, sea bass, halibut, grouper, tilefish, haddock, some form of snapper — or what?

The good news is that it barely makes any difference. You can cook any white fillet the same way you cook any other white fillet: broiled, sautéed, roasted or poached, and teamed with just about any seasoning you can think of, from the obvious, like tomatoes and capers, to the semiexotic, like sugar and fish sauce. (In this recipe chart, I’m assuming you’ll always use salt and pepper.) And this isn’t just me giving you permission or a barely acceptable compromise. It works.

The chart on the following page provides ideas for cooking 1½ pounds of white fillet, whether whole or cut into individual portions. None of these recipes take more than half an hour from start to finish; thicker pieces of fish will cook in 15 minutes or less, thinner pieces in under 10. You can tell that any fillet is done when it’s opaque and a thin-bladed knife meets little resistance when you use it to poke the thickest part of the fish.

Cooking white fish is easy. The hard part — besides figuring out what’s sustainable — is choosing the recipe.”

Go to the article for tips and recipes to BROIL, SAUTE, ROAST, and POACH white fish!


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