Do you ever feel like your home cooked fish dishes aren’t quite as on point as the ones prepared at your favourite restaurant? Do you ever wonder what the big secret is?
Perhaps the fish has the perfect char, a textbook texture, or the skin has that impeccable balance between crispy and salty. Although skill, tools and technique are without a doubt key components, we believe that how you finish a fish with sauce or seasoning is what really brings it to the next level.
Whether raw, grilled, baked, seared, fried, poached or smoked, we want to know how to best enhance fish to truly complement and embrace the fresh, natural flavours of the sea – so we asked a seafood expert for some inside tips.
Rodney Clark, Owner
Rodney’s Oyster House (Calgary)
“When it comes to seasoning delicate seafood, less is more. Using just a little salt, pepper, lemon juice and fresh herbs will allow the delicate flavours of the fish to really shine through,” explains Clark. “Keep in mind, you want to enhance the fish, not overwhelm it.”
“Halibut is the perfect summer dish and a fantastic option for the first time fish adventurer,” he said. “A fun fact many aren’t aware of is that halibut cheeks are the most tender and flavourful part of the fish. If you ever have the opportunity to try them, you’ll be hooked for life. Unfortunately, they usually don’t make it to market because fishermen prize them for their own consumption.”
See here for Rodney Clark’s recipe for Lemon Caper White Wine Sauce
Chef Adelino (Lino) Oliveira
SABOR Restaurant (Edmonton)
Chef Oliveira recommends starting your seafood adventure with a conversation at your local seafood store. The fishmonger will be happy to recommend a fish variety based on the cooking technique you have in mind.
“Not all fish cooks the same. Some varieties are better under-cooked and some well done. This depends on how oily or fatty it is,” explains Oliveira. “Tuna for example, not being very fatty or oily, is ideal rare, whereas the oily sablefish is better cooked well done and with the skin on.”
“Now, the word ‘sauce’ refers to a condiment or relish used to enhance dishes. Sauces introduce complementary flavours, add moisture, visual interest, and adjust texture,” continues Oliveira. “Most fish are very subtle in flavour, so light tangy sauces are always best. Sauces with higher acidity using lemon and vinegar will highlight the natural fish flavour.”
See here for Chef Oliveira’s recipe for Cucumber and Green Onion Salsa
Chef Bryan Michaels
Catch & the Oyster Bar (Calgary)
“Throughout summer I like to top fish with a refreshing salad or chunky fruit salsa to add texture and a pop of colour,” explains chef Bryan Michaels.
Try playing around with fruit like oranges, mango, pineapple or peaches, then add something for crunch, such as red onions, bell peppers or fennel.”
“In my recipe below, the crunch from the fennel and the fresh burst of orange complements fatty fish like salmon or even a meatier fish like halibut,” he explains. “The salt and citrus breaks down the fennel creating a sweet, salty and crisp summer salad, the perfect finish to any grilled fish.”
See here for Chef Michaels’ recipe for Shaved Fennel Salad with Oranges and Salami