Saturday, August 3, 2013

Oven-Fried Fish, Fries, and Fresh Tomatoes

July 28, 2013

Crunchy Oven-Fried Fish
Steak Fries
Caprese Salad
Vella Chardonnay, Sam Adams Boston Lager
Strawberries with Angel Food Cake 

Crunchy Oven-Fried Fish from Cook's Illustrated
Steak Fries from Cook's Illustrated
Caprese Salad from

We are not frequent fish eaters but I would like to work a little more fish into our diet. When we do have fish it is usually salmon but for this Sunday dinner we had "Pacific true cod" that I "oven-fried", though I don't really know what makes it oven-fried rather than baked or roasted.  I selected cod over  other varieties of white fish available this day at Whole Foods. Not only was it the only one that was thick enough but it was on sale, at $6 a pound it was quite a bit less expensive than the other choices. The fish  turned out well, the crust was crunchy with a flavor that complemented the mild-flavored fish. It adhered to the fish beautifully without flaking off. The fish itself was nicely cooked but we thought it was bland. I believe this is a fault of the fish and not the recipe. Diane and I both added lemon juice and a little ketchup to enhance the flavor and Diane rarely uses ketchup on anything.

The steak fries took the most time to prepare. The potatoes had to be cleaned and cut, soaked in ice water, and fried twice with a rest period between the two fryings. It was not a lot of work but it does take a little time to get through all of the steps. I wrote a few months ago about my return to deep frying and some of the challenges I encountered. I didn't try so hard this time to control the temperature of the oil. I just heated it to the desired temperature then put in the food, turning up the heat to minimize the temperature drop. I was concerned that the fries would be overcooked given the time they spend in the hot oil. This turned out to be unfounded: the fries were crispy on the outside and smooth and creamy inside, just the way french fries should be.

The salad highlighted the fresh tomatoes that we now have from our garden and in our monthly CSA box. Fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper—very simple and summery. After the fact I wished I'd bought fresh mozzarella rather than the packaged stuff, but it was still good.

This was a nice dinner. The food was good. It was filling and light so we left the table with our hunger satisfied, refreshed with no feeling of having overeaten.

By design there were no leftovers. Fish is not good except when fresh and freshly cooked.

Kitchen tip
When making strawberry shortcake, or serving strawberries with a sponge cake as we did, crush about half of the strawberries using a potato masher and cut the remaining strawberries into halves or quarters. Prepare the berries a few hours before serving and season them with a pinch of salt and sugar to taste. Crushing the berries and adding the salt and sugar will extract their juices which then soak into the cake when you serve it, spreading the fresh fruit flavor throughout the dessert.


  1. I highly recommend oven-baked fries (either white or sweet potatoes), it's the only way I ever cook them anymore. Crispy on the outside, meaty on the inside; no messing with hot oil and lower on the calorie scale. I cut them to desired size, toss into a baggie with a Tbsp of oil, some parsley, and Cajun seasoning (any seasoning would do, or none), then bake on a cookie sheet @ 400-450 for 30 min+, turning once. (PS: the link to the fish recipe above is broken...)

    1. Thanks, Diane, I have fixed the link.

      I put off deep frying for several years but now that I've invested in the right equipment and have gotten some practice I am OK with it. We had fish & chips this weekend. I think the notion that fried food is necessarily higher in calories may be overstated. If your oil is hot enough very little gets absorbed by the food.