For all of the great-for-you reasons there are to cook fish (healthy! full of omega-3s and vitamins! low fat!), there are an equal number of reasons why many home cooks shy away from our scaly friends from the sea—too delicate, lack of cooking confidence, the stinky factor, and sustainability questions. This Roasted Blackfish with Olives and Sage from Melissa Clark's Cook This Now sets out to calm all of our fish-cooking worries.
No need to worry about flipping the delicate fillets once they're in the oven; the heat does all of the work. Roasting traps the majority of those pesky, fishy aromas in the oven, eliminating the dreaded fishy linger. And as far as sustainability goes, the Monterrey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch is a priceless resource (that comes in handy app form too).
OK, now that we're established that roasting is the way to go for the fish fearful, let's get back to Clark's bang-up blackfish recipe.
If you can't get your hands on blackfish or tautog, feel free to sub in any sort of medium-firm fleshed fish such as bass or mackerel. Instead of using a delicate hand with her fish, Clark prefers a more robust cast, flavors that most of us would more readily associate with meats—olives, sage, and chiles. Instead of overpowering the delicate fish, the sage and olives do a wonderful job bringing out its oceanic sweetness with hints of brine and herbal green notes. The lemon lends that acid zip that every piece of fish benefits from and a sprinkling of hot chile at the end gives it a pleasantly warm top note.
All in all, this is a perfect recipe for fish novices, but more than that it's one that will inspire fish cooking confidence in the future.
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Cook This Now to give away this week.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 (1-pound) skin-on blackfish fillets, patted dry
- Kosher salt, for seasoning
- Freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning
- 1 small bunch fresh sage
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata or other olives
- Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
- Urfa or Aleppo red pepper, for seasoning
- Best-quality extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling (optional)
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the oil into the bottom of a baking sheet. Arrange the fish fillets, skin-side down, in the pan. Season the fish generously with salt and pepper. Tear the sage leaves into small pieces and sprinkle over the fish. Scatter the olives on top and around the fish. Drizzle the fish with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil.
Transfer the pan to the oven and roast until the fish is just opaque. 8 to 10 minutes. Squeeze the lemon juice over the fish and dust the fillet with Turkish (Urfa) or Aleppo pepper. Finish with a light drizzle of good oil, if desired.