Fish my wish
July 18, 2006 8:29 PM   Subscribe

What are some good sauces and marinades for fish?

I love fish. I am also lazy. Typically, I'll just take a fillet of some sort, marinate it in soy (I love Soy Vey), and cook it in the oven.

However, soy is getting old, and I'm interested in some new sauces/marinades. What all would you suggest? Recipes as well as brand names are welcome.

My favorite fish are : tuna steak, swordfish, halibut, sea bass, and mahi-mahi. Salmon and tilapia are also good with the right sauces.
posted by Afroblanco to Food & Drink (36 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
We had some tilapia the other day for fish tacos that was marinated in a lemon sauce that totally kicked butt.

I've also been getting the salmon patties from CostCo, liberally dousing them with a spice called (stupid name) It's a Dilly, a combination of dill, garlic and lemon, then toss it on the grill and have it with tartar sauce.

You could also look into cooking fish in an acidic marinade like a ceviche.

Also, since you like the Soy Vey, try their Wasabiyaki sauce, its excellent and has a good bite to it!
posted by fenriq at 8:36 PM on July 18, 2006

Two easy and delicious fish recipes:

(1) Make a marinade of about a 5:3:2:1 ratio of mirin, honey, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Marinade fish (I like cod for this) in most of it for 30 minutes or so. Save some to serve with the fish. Then bake for 10 minutes or so.

(2) Cook fish (grouper, red snapper, and halibut work well for this) in a nonstick pan on the stove in a little butter until the surface is done. then pour in some white wine, cover, and steam (still on stove) for 7-8 minutes until done. Take fish out; add a little lemon juice and some rinsed capers to the pan. (Also maybe a little more butter.) Turn heat up and boil down to a thick brown sauce, stirring and scraping constantly with a spatula. Spoon over fish. (Should make a few tablespoons of sauce, tops.)
posted by raf at 8:36 PM on July 18, 2006

For a white fish like bass or halibut, grab a bottle of raspberry vingrette from the supermarket and marinate. I prefer the Annie's Naturals brand because it has a bit of creaminess to it.
posted by falconred at 8:36 PM on July 18, 2006

Meaty fish like swordfish and tuna are great with some olive oil, rosemary and lemon. And/or thyme. Put the lemon on at the end, just before cooking, though.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:39 PM on July 18, 2006

Take a whole fish and do a salt baked fish. Stuff the cavity with things you like (try lemon and dill). I've done this and it was amazing.

I realize that it's not a marinade but you can use a small fish and it is delicious.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 8:42 PM on July 18, 2006

Oh, and that recipe calls for scaling the fish. Don't bother. The whole skin and scales will come off anyway. It's also hard to overcook the fish, since the salt keeps the moisture in and prevents drying.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 8:44 PM on July 18, 2006

For baked salmon, I occasionally do a roux seasoned with salt, white pepper, and a teensy bit of cayenne and mustard. It takes mere minutes, and is surprisingly tasty. Alternatively, I've topped salmon (baked with a bit of butter and salt) with green onions and various mushrooms. It's not a sauce, I know, but it's a nice variation.

For tuna steak, mix a bit of mayo and wasabi together.
posted by moira at 8:46 PM on July 18, 2006

I've had good results with a bottled sauce called House Salmon : Citrus Wasabi (second item listed here). It's a mixture of soy, lemon and wasabi, and it works best on salmon steaks that have been marinating in it for 12 to 24 hours.
posted by crunchland at 8:48 PM on July 18, 2006

Also, you can sometimes find "unagi" sauce in grocery stores. I've used it on tilapia (for fish tacos) with good results.
posted by moira at 8:52 PM on July 18, 2006

Poach salmon and eat cold with a sauce made of sour cream, dill and mustard. Can't be beat in the summer. Or make a garlicky tomato salsa to go on top of the cold fish.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:56 PM on July 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

Lemon butter is delicious and very easy to make and simply drizzle over whatever fish you have - basically just melted butter and lemon juice or grated lemon rind (aka zest) with salt, pepper and a wide range of possible additions, including garlic cloves, rosemary, white wine, honey, cream, etc. Searching will turn up all sorts of possibilities. It may take you a few tries to get the right amount of lemon flavor for your tastebuds, but once you do...mmmmmmm.....lemony butter...
posted by mediareport at 8:56 PM on July 18, 2006

OK, you're over soy sauce. But jazz it up with half a lime juice, chopped scallions, cilantro, chopped ginger and chopped garlic. mmmmm.

For salmon, I like to just pepper and salt it, bake it and then eat with tarragon mustard.
posted by gaspode at 9:06 PM on July 18, 2006

I like fish with peanut sauce

Also lemongrass whatever sauce

Both available in the pan-asian section of your local mega chain grocery.
posted by thirteenkiller at 9:10 PM on July 18, 2006

There are two sauces I typically serve with fish. The first is a pan sauce made by simmering some fish stock or chicken stock with clam juice down with some lemon juice and zest, garlic, and ground rosemary. I put in diced tomatos and parsley. The full method is in Julia Child's Way to Cook as provencal butter sauce.

The other thing that I liked to do that goes great with grilled fish is to make a pico de gallo with tomatos, cilantro, red onion, jalepenos, lime juice, garlic, and mangos. The fruit in the salsa goes really well with some fish that has been grilled with salt and pepper and a bit of olive oil. I also second CunningLinguist's poached salmon with dill. I add some grated and pressed cucumber to mine.
posted by Foam Pants at 9:15 PM on July 18, 2006

Tuna steak is just heavenly with peanut sauce (look in the Thai foods aisle).
posted by evariste at 9:16 PM on July 18, 2006

I have good luck with Lawry's Hawaiian marinade for fish, especially salmon. The other way I typically make fish is with those little seasoning packets from the grocery store. (I do this with all meat. It's the easiest way to get a lot of flavor with zero effort) Just open up the seasoning (I like the Grill Mates packets) and use it as a dry rub on your fish. May need a tiny bit of extra moisture if your fish is not moist already. Just squish it on with your hands and bake it or put it in the pan. Really good. Really Fast.
posted by theantikitty at 9:19 PM on July 18, 2006

Do you like to experiment? I like to look at marinades as a sort of equation subject to infinite variation - generally there's an oil component (helps marinade adhere and penetrate, though if it's an oily fish it may be superfluous) - a little olive oil is my standby but some toasted sesame is great for an Asian taste - an acid/sour component (citrus juices, soy, vinegars) and then the seasoning components - fresh ingredients like green onions, garlic, ginger, hot peppers; fresh herbs and/or dry spices - where it's really wide open, but don't neglect good old salt and pepper; other flavorings like honey, mustard, wine. If you have growing fresh herbs a marinade is a great way to use them and the specific herbs can lead your other choices. Sweet or sour or savory? An Asian flair, or maybe Italian, French or Mexican?
posted by nanojath at 9:41 PM on July 18, 2006

I guess I skipped the "I am also lazy" part... Um, San-J makes a very nice bottled thai peanut sauce that is a good marinade. Though I gotta be straight with you, when I use it I just had to chop up a little fresh ginger, garlic, green onions, squeeze of lemon, a few dashes of soy and maybe a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil...
posted by nanojath at 9:45 PM on July 18, 2006

Take some fillets of fish (basically any kind will do) and marinade in:
1 to 2 cloves grated or minced garlic
Chopped parsley
4 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs white wine
1 tsp soy sauce (could do without, but adjust to taste in the end)
1 tsp salt
pinch of black pepper

Let stand 30 min. Heat pan on high heat and toss all contents into it, sauce included. Fry both sides of fillets. Add about 12 cherry tomatoes (or as many as you like) and about 20 pcs of some clams of your choice (I use Japanese littlenecks) and put a lid on the pan. When the clams open, add a small lump of butter (20 g) and heat until the sauce evaporates somewhat.

I love this recipe, it's simple but really good!
posted by misozaki at 9:48 PM on July 18, 2006

I find marinading fish tends to kill its flavor and is often found on fish that is not fresh. Don't ruin fresh fish and don't eat old fish. The only exception for fresh is ceviche, seviche, cebiche.

Saucing fish is fine either during some part of the cooking or after. Heavy fish such as salmon are often poached in court bullion which contains white wine.

Whiteish fish can be baked/broiled covered in some mild mayo like sauce (from bottled "creamy Italian dressing" to homemade mayo with lemon or white wine plus capers or dill or tarragon or whatever).

If you are grilling fish, such as tuna steaks, you can add some sweetish Japanese style sauce toward the end and let it caramalize, and then add a bit more before serving. Don't use store-bought "teryaki sauce" - its blandness sucks. Make your own because you want to add an intense layer of flavor on the outside of a fairly mild (and hopefully raw in the middle) piece of fish.

Your "teryaki sauce" may include sweet (sugar, honey, ripe fruit, mirin, ...), sour (fruit, citrus, mirin, sake, ...), onion (onion, garlic, chives, ...), sharp (wasabi, mustard, horseradish, ...), hot (black pepper, chilis (fresh, sauces or powders), ... ), and Umami (soy sauce, mushrooms, sake, mirin, miso, ...). Make it intense and don't over apply it.

For "after cooking" sauces, the French do it fairly well and I won't explain that here.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 10:12 PM on July 18, 2006

I just want to come another way and suggest poaching fish in sauces. Marinating fish can be good, but great fresh fish can be great just by cooking it perfectly.
This is a good way to cook sea bass.
Also want to recommend this great book on cooking many different types of fish.
With salmon, try to get some wild alaskan at this time of year...that's really what its about. I know its expensive though.
posted by alkupe at 10:39 PM on July 18, 2006

Fish finger sandwiches are great with a good blob of thai sweet chili sauce. Who says british food ain't great?
posted by dowcrag at 2:15 AM on July 19, 2006

posted by ed\26h at 2:28 AM on July 19, 2006

The classic treatment for thin white fish filets in New Orleans is a la meunière. Browned butter and lemon, you don't need much because it is full of flavor.

Add toasted slivered almonds and you have almondine.

For the above, you saute the fish.

For heavier, oilier fish, a la Veracruz, very thinly sliced lemon (Meyer if you can get it), thinly sliced onion and slices of tomato, lime juice, maybe some olives.

For this one, bake the fish, wrapped or covered.
posted by Ilaine at 3:44 AM on July 19, 2006

My favorite thing to do to a fillet of fish is put some spicy hot mango chutney on it before broiling it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 4:07 AM on July 19, 2006

I smear jar pesto over fish (usually salmon in my house), sprinkle with salt, lemon, and minced garlic, and bake. So good. And you can get away with just the pesto, I just like the lemon and garlic.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:51 AM on July 19, 2006

For salmon, I like to use a sweet/hot rub.

For a couple fillets, mix together in a bowl,
.5 tsp paprika
.5 chile powder (I like chipotle)
1 tsp garlic powder
.5 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp gray or sea salt
.5 tsp pepper
2 tbsp sugar

Now coat both sides of the fish and bake or pan fry until flaky.
posted by pmbuko at 6:19 AM on July 19, 2006

If you don't want to go through a bunch of cooking rigamarole, but you want to try something other than soy sauce: Substitute orange juice and cook using your normal procedures.
posted by majick at 6:28 AM on July 19, 2006

I made this recipe from Epicurious last night using mahi mahi instead of halibut. The only real "work" involved chopping one onion (instead of shallots) and one tomato. I skipped the basil and the clam juice and used a little cream and fresh thyme, since that's what I had in the fridge. The whole thing took about 15 minutes and was delicious!
posted by hsoltz at 7:03 AM on July 19, 2006

Response by poster: I love you guys and I love this thread! Thanks for all the ideas, and please keep them coming.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:30 AM on July 19, 2006

Salmoriglio (sal-mor-EE-oo) sauce originated in Sicily/Southern Italy. Looking at the ingredients, you might think you know what it's like...but it's much better than anyone expects.

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons hot water
6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano

Vigorously whisk liquid ingredients in double boiler over simmering water. Add remaining ingredients and heat 5 minutes. Spoon over cooked fish.

You can find many variations (with and without parsley, with and without other herbs) via google.
posted by wryly at 9:15 AM on July 19, 2006

No one else has mentioned it, so let me just say that Hollandaise is just heavenly on fish. Another thing that's particularly great (especially on salmon) is a relish made of plain yougurt, minced cucumber, minced green onion (white parts only), white pepper, and dill.
posted by Gilbert at 9:24 AM on July 19, 2006

Afroblanco, thx for asking this question. I am probably the top consumer of fish from my local HEB and the same question has been on my mind for sometime. This thread is awesome!

Try Tilapia with Lemon Herbs. It's one of my faves.

Piggyback question: I mostly find that the fish in HEB (or other chain grocery stores - though here I mostly shop HEB/Walmart) is not that fresh. Are there any other places I should be looking at to buy good fish which tastes frreeeshh!. Any Chinese/Mexican grocery stores? I am in Austin.
posted by forwebsites at 10:26 AM on July 19, 2006

I like to use a mild fish like Tilapia, and marinate it in:

-lots of fresh squeezed lime juice
-olive oil
-sliced shallots
-sliced jalapeno's
-chopped cilantro
-salt & pepper
-chili powder and cumin

for at least an hour.

Then grill hot so they get just a bit of char on their outside...

I like to eat the filets wrapped in corn tortillas with some chopped cilantro and onions and some salsa verde...

and maybe some rice.
posted by cusack at 12:49 PM on July 19, 2006

Forwebsites, try Quality Seafood on Airport & 290. Freshest fish you'll find anywhere in Austin, and a very knowledgable staff. Also try the restaurant if you get a chance.
posted by Gilbert at 1:36 PM on July 19, 2006

forwebsites: try buying it frozen. Frozen fish is paradoxically fresher than "fresh" fish, which is usually frozen on the boat and defrosted at the store. Best to buy it while it's still frozen and defrost at your own leisure.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:00 AM on July 21, 2006

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