The How-To: Master the Simple Summer Fish Dish

Pulling off a pitch-perfect plate of summer’s freshest catch is simple: Just think like a chef. Neptune Oyster executive chef Michael Serpa advises you to source like one, too, so it doesn’t hurt to befriend your local fishmonger. “If you buy whatever the freshest-looking fish is and are kind of stumped, playing to the style of the fish in terms of a sauce or a side will at least give you a starting-off point,” Serpa says. Here, a handy cooking guide to inform your summer seafood feasts.

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summer fish dish key

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Group One:

Mild and Delicate

easy summer fish dishes 1

Characterized By: Subtle flavor, tender flesh, thinner skin, shorter cooking time.

sauce 1

The Sauce: “Fat can be used to help balance out a dish with these styles of fish, as they are pretty lean,” Serpa says. He suggests a parsley citronnette: Simply whisk together a one-to-one ratio of olive oil (or melted butter, if you’d like) to fresh-squeezed lemon juice; add chopped parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

sides 1

The Sides: Support the delicate fish with raw veggies (like cucumbers and fennel) or a salad.

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Group Two:

Clean and Meaty

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Characterized By: Medium-clean flavor, firmer texture, thicker skin, slightly longer cooking time, and the most flexibility in terms of food pairings.

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The Sauce: Try a salsa verde with more-assertive herbs: In a blender, purée a two-to-one ratio of herbs (like cilantro, parsley, scallions, and mint) and olive oil; add lemon or lime juice, salt, and pepper to taste.

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The Sides: Sautéed or steamed corn; sliced fresh tomatoes with salt and pepper.

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Group Three:

Rich and Flavorful

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Characterized By: Stronger flavor, more fat, thin skin, tender flesh, shorter cooking time. Exception: tuna, which typically has no skin in retail, and firm flesh.

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The Sauce: This is the only group of fish that Serpa says can really handle a marinade, so try a mustard or harissa rub before cooking. If you’d rather sauce up afterward, opt for a mostarda, a chutneylike Italian condiment laced with mustard. You can buy it jarred, or make your own by mixing three parts tart jam (such as rose hip) with one part Dijon mustard.

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The Sides: Smokier flavors like grilled vegetables; potatoes and chorizo.

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Photographs by Mark Schou. Food styling by Kendra Smith.
Illustrations by Jeffrey Mangiat.

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Hungry for more?

Check out our complete “Seafood Lover’s Guide.”

Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/restaurants/2014/06/24/seafood-how-to-simple-summer-fish-dish/