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baked fillet of perch in its baking tin with lemon mustard sauceWow, two posts in two days! I’m proud of myself.

For a while now, and especially during the Dukan Diet I was on during the summer, I’ve been conscious that I don’t eat enough fish. The Mediterranean diet calls for fish twice a week and I really want to start keeping up with that. Fish is a fantastic food. It’s full of protein and any fat it has is the good kind, it’s quick to cook and it’s tasty. The only down side is that is a bit costly, but it’s worth every penny when you consider the benefits.

At some point I will start experimenting with the more demanding types of fish, the ones that still have heads and tails and backbones even after arriving in one’s kitchen. Here in Greece it would be inconceivable to serve fish without the head, unless of course you’re having a fillet or “slice” as it’s called, of a large one such as swordfish. For many people (I’m not one of them) the head is the tastiest part and they’ll take their time dismantling it to get to the little bits of meat and juice inside. For now, I stick to cooking filleted fish and enjoy the whole ones when they’re cooked by someone else (and in someone else’s kitchen).

In seafood restaurants, more often than not you go and choose the fish you want from the “catch of the day” which lies on a bed of ice. Making the right choice, in a restaurant or at the fishmonger’s, is important and you need to know what to look for in order to get the freshest and most delicious of the catch. Here are some tips:

At the Market:

Check the eyes; they should be shiny and bulging (never buy a fish that’s had its eyes removed – some fishmongers do that so you can’t tell whether it’s fresh – which means it’s not!).
The gills should be deep red or pink, and moist not dry. If they are brown and dull move on.
The skin should be shiny and should spring back when pressed with a finger without leaving a mark.
The body should be firm and slightly arched and should stay like that when held on an open palm (head and tail pointing upwards). However, the ice the fish lies on helps keep it firm, and apparently some clever fishmongers put salt on the ice which helps with firmness even more.
Fresh fish doesn’t smell at all. Don’t expect to smell the sea, if you do, it’s about a day old. If it smells fishy it’s about 2-3 days old.

In the Kitchen:

The scales should be shiny and should come off easily without the skin becoming damaged.
The insides should also come out easily and in one piece. If things disintegrate during cleaning you should be wary.

At the Table:

When grilled, fresh fish “opens” and comes off the bone.
The bones should be white (except for garfish which has a green backbone) not dark.

I found this recipe on the website of a major frozen fish company in Greece called Kallimanis. It’s very lemony, but that’s more than ok with me. I didn’t use wine because I didn’t want to open a bottle for ½ a cup, so I used a little bit of white wine vinegar instead. It made the sauce really tangy and yummy. If your palates are sensitive use a little less vinegar and lemon juice.

Baked Perch in Lemon Mustard Sauce

Serves 2
What you need:
500g perch fillet (fresh or frozen and defrosted according to package directions)
Salt & black pepper
3 Tbs olive oil
4 Tbs fresh lemon juice
2 ½ Tbs white wine vinegar (or 5 Tbs white wine)
1 Tbs parsley, chopped
4 tsp Dijon mustard
6 Tbs water
Pinch of chili flakes

What you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 200C.
  2. Rinse the fish and pat dry with kitchen paper. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  3. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake to mix well.
  4. Place the fillet in a smallish, lightly greased baking tin. Don’t use a big one so that the fish is at least partly submerged in the sauce.
  5. Pour the contents of the jar over the fish.
  6. Bake at 200C for 15 to 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillet.

Notes: You’ll get quite a bit of sauce but it will be runny. You could thicken it if you want and pour it over the fish when served. I’d transfer the sauce to a small pan, heat it to boiling point, take it off the heat, add a slurry of 1 tsp corn flour/3 tsp water, mix well and return to the heat for a few minutes till it thickens. Now that I’m thinking about it a teaspoon of capers might work quite well in the sauce.
You can of course use any firm white fish you like.
To make it Dukan Diet friendly omit the olive oil.

Other tasty looking recipes for baked fish:
Baked Fish with Spring Onion and Orange, by Inspired Taste
Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto Crust, by Kalyn’s Kitchen
Algerian Baked Fish by 64 Sq. Ft Kitchen
Baked Fish Sticks by A Recipe A Day

5RWDB7U8GKUM (ignore this, it’s code – ooh does that sound exciting?!)