Updated: Sep 18, 2020
I know what you’re thinking: fish is intimidating! The smell, the mess, the cleanup, oh my! Fish maybe a little scary, but with a few tips and flip(per)s, you’ll be handling those scales like a pro.
I have vivid memories of my mother cooking these finned beasts. “Close all the doors!” she would wail, with my sister and I scrambling to shield our rooms from the stench. Half of the time, she would give the same warning, even when cooking it outside with the screen door shut. How does the smell get everywhere? It’s still a mystery to me, ten years later.
Tip #1 Start small.
Some fish are more challenging to handle than others, and that’s ok! Fattier fish, such as salmon or bluefish, are more forgiving, even when overcooked. Start with cut fillets rather than whole fish, and work your way up! Try broiling or pan-searing before venturing out into other crazy applications. The point is: don’t give up, you can do it!
Tip #2 Get to know your local fish expert.
Just like an excellent window-shopping session, snoop around the fish section. Browse your options, ask questions, look around! Just like produce, fish have seasons, and knowing when peak seasons are will not only save you money but will also guarantee a fresher, local product.
Tip #3 Cook with confidence.
Don’t lose your head over a dang fish! Just remember our cooking mantra: golden brown delicious. How do we ensure the deliciousness to come? Make sure to season your fish just like a steak or chicken generously. Leave the fish alone! I know it’s tempting to look underneath and check that skin because we all want crispy skin, but control yourself! Letting the fish see enough heat and contact on the skin side will guarantee a nice, crispy fish cracker, I promise. Gently pressing down with the back of a spoon while the skin side is down will increase the amount of contact with the pan, getting rid of those soggy spots; you know what I’m talking about.
The reality is, you’re not going to read my tips and run circles around your local fishmonger. It’s going to take a bit of a learning curve, but you CAN do it.
Going into fall, my mom gave me a HUGE amount of corn. A ridiculous amount; I’m literally swimming in corn as we speak. What better way to put a dent in it than some chowder, am I right?
I love searing off a little salmon to top this bad boy, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do! Salmon is pretty forgiving because of its fat content, and the important thing to remember is white goop seeping out of your fish is bad, and you’ve gone too far. Keeping the pieces a little smaller allows for first-time fish cookers don’t have to fret over a huge chunk of fish, and watching the heat, keeping it medium-ish, ensures the middle gets to cook without any burning or worry of going overdone before we can catch it. The fatty, savoriness of salmon paired with some silky sweet corn chowder is definitely worth the risk of fish smell! I promise!
This chowder is the perfect accompaniment to a fatty fish, and here’s how you can make this simple fish dish.
Salmon and corn chowder
½ pound salmon
2 ears corn
2 yukon gold potatoes
1 rib of celery
3 cloves garlic
1 bunch of parsley
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon thyme
1 small container sour cream
1 cup cream
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
All-Clad 8Qt Stock Pot: https://amzn.to/328yKFL
Yield: 3-4 servings
Cooking time: 30 minutes
First thing’s first: take the corn off the cob and save the cobs!
In a tall pot, break the corn cobs in half and cover with 4 cups of water. Simmer on medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes.
While that’s simmering away, prepare the veg! Peel and dice the carrot into small, corn-sized pieces.
Slice both ends of the leek off and split it down the middle, exposing the layers. Slice the leek thinly and transfer them into a bowl of water, roughly washing them to get rid of any dirt in between the layers.
Cut the celery and potatoes into small, bite-sized pieces, and mince the garlic.
In a tall pot, combine the olive oil, leek, thyme, bay leaf, and garlic on medium heat. Add a hefty pinch of salt; seasoning is key! Cook this until the leeks have softened and the garlic is fragrant.
Add the flour and saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Go ahead and season this mixture with another hefty pinch of salt and a crack of black pepper.
Strain the corn cob stock and add the liquid to the flour pot. Make sure to discard the solids.
Add the rest of the veggies, along with the corn and the cream, and let this simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the veggies are tender.
Once tender, we prepare the salmon! Cut the salmon into 1-2 inch pieces. I like doing this for easy eating.
In a saute pan, heat 1 teaspoon of oil on medium heat.
Season the salmon with salt and pepper on each side and sear on one side for 3-4 minutes. Flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until golden on both sides.
To serve, place 3-4 pieces of salmon in our beautiful chowder and garnish with shaved radishes and a drizzle of sour cream.