5 Tips That Will Help You Master a Simple Fish Dinner

Like chicken or pasta, fish is really a blank slate when it comes to preparing it for dinner. Yet, unlike chicken or pasta, fish has a reputation of being hard to prepare, which makes it feel a bit daunting. The truth, however, is fish is just as easy to turn into a quick, flavorful dinner as those other big proteins. The key is to embrace a few simple tricks that will jazz up just about any fillet you bring home.

Jazzing up your fish routine at home is easy. It starts with embracing a couple of smart techniques and reaching for ingredients that seriously boost flavor. Once you have those under your belt, you’ll be on your way to a more exciting dinner any night of the week.

Break out the parchment paper.

If you tend to overcook fish frequently, it’s time you get to know parchment paper. Wrap up the fish in a packet of parchment paper and bake it and the fish will steam instead of roast, which will help lessen the chance of dry, tough fillets. You can also load the packets with veggies so you basically have a complete meal when you open it.

Embrace brown butter.

I LOVE lots of brown butter;  it improves just about anything, whether it’s tossed with ravioli or drizzled on popcorn. So of course it does wonders to fish. Spoon brown butter over a mild fish, like cod or tilapia, and it will instantly add so much rich, nutty flavor you’ll think you’re in a fancy restaurant.  Garnish with toasted almonds or pine nuts and you are in a different sea!

Use fresh instead of convenience sauces .

Take the time to prep. Things like tomato salsa, tartar sauce and basil pesto are easy to make sauces for fish and deliver all the flavor you need in just a few spoonful's. Keep these ingredients on hand and dinner is instantly easier, healthier — and more delicious.

A skillet is the secret to crispy skin.

If you’re itching to recreate that crispy skin you get on fish fillets at nice restaurants, you need to break out your skillet. Put the non stick away...it's CAST IRON time!  The high heat is really the best way to achieve that crack-er like skin that makes eating fish really feel special.

Finish with acid.

Regardless of how well you season it, cooked fish can often taste a little flat. What it’s missing is a big squeeze of lemon or lime love to add just a touch of juicy brightness. Keep either on hand and finish with a healthy drizzle right before serving.

Now, onto some of Chef April's favorite seafood recipes:

Honey Soy Glazed Salmon (side of steamed rice with peas and sesame seeds)
Sticky-sweet with savorty notes, pan-seared into crispy charred gooness on the outer edges while keeping the center tender and juice.
Total Time 10 Minues
Servings 2

1/8 cup honey
1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
12-14 ounce salmon fillet ( 2 fillets, 6-8 oz each)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoon oil - for frying

1. Prepare the honey-soy glaze by mixing them together in a small bowl and set aside.

2. Season your salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Make sure that all side are well rubbed with the seasoning.

3. Dredge each piece of seasoned salmon fillet in flour making sure that all sides are covered. Shake off the excess.

4. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Note that the honey can easily burn on high heat. If it does, lower your heat.

5. Brush one side of the fillets with the honey-soy glaze and place them with the glazed-side down on the hot skillet. While on the pan, brush the top side with glaze as well. Cook each side for 3 minutes or until glaze has caramelized and the salmon fillets are cooked through.

6. Remove the fillets from the pan and transfer them to a serving plate. Serve while still hot with your favorite side dish.

Cajun Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo
Servings: 2

1 lb raw large shrimp
½ of a 16oz pkg of Fettuccine pasta (cooked per box directions)
2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoon butter
1 tsp minced garlic
1/3 cup white wine (I use Chardonnay or chicken broth)
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh parsley, to garnish

1. In a pan, heat the olive oil over medium high Season the shrimp with the onion powder, garlic powder, Herbes de Provence, lemon pepper, paprika, and 1 tsp of the Cajun seasoning.

2. dd in the shrimp and cook until they are pink. (Do not over cook.)

3. Remove the shrimp and tint with foil to keep warm

4. Add the butter to the same pan.

5. Once it melts, add in the garlic and sauté for 30 secs

6. Pour in the wine and stir to deglaze the pan

7. After the wine reduces, pour in the heavy cream.

8. Bring it to a simmer.

9. Add in the Parmesan cheese and the other tsp of Cajun seasoning

10. Turn the heat to low and allow the sauce to simmer for 5-6 mins.

11. Taste and adjusting seasoning as needed

12. Add the cooked pasta and shrimp (optional) to the sauce and toss well to coat.

13. Garnish with fresh parsley. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes
Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Once it’s done, turn off the heat, but do NOT drain off the water until you’re ready to put the pasta into the sauce. Just drain the water off then add it into the sauce. Do NOT rinse the pasta.

Walleye Piccata with Crispy Smashed Potatoes 
It's amazing what you can make in 15 minutes (from scratch) if you get a bit creative! You can really use any vegetables you want as long as they cook quickly in a pan with just a bit of braising liquid.
Servings: 2

2 pieces firm walleye fillets ( 5 - 7 oz each) (with or without skin, your choice)
6 baby /new potatoes (about the size of a golf ball)
7 green beans , trimmed
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley , finely chopped
2 Tablespoon olive oil
3 Tablespoon plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
Black pepper

1/3 cup white wine
1/2 cup water
1 - 2 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice (adjust to your taste)
2 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon baby capers
Salt and pepper

1. Cook the potatoes in the microwave for 2 minutes, turn potatoes, then cook for another 1 1/2 - 2 minutes. You will be able to tell by squeezing them if they are ready. Don't worry if the skin bursts, you are smashing them anyway.

2. Use the side of a knife, meat mallet or your hand (covered with a dish cloth) and smash each potato so they are flattened to around 1.5cm/ 0.5" thick with a flattish surface. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

3. Meanwhile, combine flour, salt and pepper on a plate and dredge each side of the fish in the flour mixture. Shake off excess flour.

4. Heat olive oil in a non stick pan over high heat. Place fish and potatoes in the pan. Press the potatoes down lightly with a spatula to help it crisp up.

5. Cook the first side of both the fish and potatoes for around 2 minutes until golden brown, then turn. Make sure the potato is crispy and brown.

6. Cook the other side of the fish for 1 1/2 minutes (also see notes for fish cooking time). Then remove from the pan onto a plate and cover loosely with foil.

7. Give the potatoes another 30 seconds to 1 minute to make it nice and brown and crispy, then remove from the pan.

8. Turn heat down to medium high.

9. Add wine and water to the pan. Scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan and mix it in. When the liquid comes to a rapid simmer, add the beans.

10. Shake the pan occasionally to help the beans cook evenly. Cook the beans in the liquid for around 1 1/2 minutes until "tender crisp" (i.e. cooked but still crisp) and remove from pan. If the liquid reduces too much while cooking the beans (which might be the case if you are using a very large heavy based pan), just add a splash of water.

11. Remove pan from heat. By the time you remove the beans, there should just be a bit of sauce left at the bottom of the fry pan, not even covering the entire base of the fry pan.

12. Add lemon juice then stir through butter and capers. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper

To Serve
Place half the beans on each plate and place 3 potatoes on top. Top with a piece of fish. Spoon over the Sauce onto each fish and scatter with parsley. Serve immediately.

The cooking time for the fish will vary depending on the thickness of the fillet you are using. If you aren't sure, just take a peek by pushing aside some of the fish flakes in the center of the fish to check. And remember that the fish will continue to cook while resting! Also if you are cooking fish straight out of the fridge, it will take a little longer to cook than fish at room temperature