If you prepare fish as part of your weekly menu, it's easy to fall into a rut and cook your favorite recipe time after time. Cuisines from all countries have fish recipes that incorporate seasonings and spices common to their countries, as well as use various cooking methods. Indian-style baked fish has many variations, all of which use assorted seasonings and cooking techniques.
Baked Chutney-Stuffed Fish
This recipe from southern India makes an elegant presentation and has a delicate taste. Start with two fresh whole fish, such as trout or sea bass, that have been dressed and butterflied by your fishmonger. Prepare a chutney with cilantro, lemon juice, salt, garlic, fresh ginger, green chiles, fresh or frozen grated coconut, pistachio nuts, cumin seeds, and mustard seeds. Reserve two tablespoons of the chutney and spread the rest over the fish. Let marinate for 20 minutes. Spoon the reserved chutney into the cavity of each fish and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes until fish easily flakes with a fork. Serve with lemon wedges.
Indian Spicy Baked Fish
Fish baked en papillote (enclosed) retains its moisture. The "papillote" in this recipe is banana leaves, which also impart the fish with extra flavor. Rub two whole firm fish such as kingklip, yellowtail, or butterfish with a mixture of crushed garlic, crushed ginger, chopped chiles, and fish masala. Place the fish on top of banana leaves, and top with sliced fresh tomato, onions, and lime. Pour a cup of unsweetened coconut cream on top. Fold the leaves around the fish, and secure with wooden skewers to keep the juices inside. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes until the fish is flaky but still moist.
Garlic Baked Fish
Garlic paired with fish is a fairly uncommon combination but it's a winning recipe. Process four slices of fresh bread with the crusts removed with 10 to 12 garlic cloves, a few parsley sprigs, and salt to taste. Dilute two teaspoons of red chili paste or sriracha with a tablespoon of water. Cut fish fillets such as cod or snapper into 2-inch pieces, and sprinkle with lemon juice. Dip in the chili paste mixture and dredge in the breadcrumb mixture, patting the mixture to make it stick to the fish. Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes until flaky and cooked through.
Fish Baking Tips
Baking fish is easy and one of the healthiest preparation methods. Keep the fish refrigerated until right before cooking. Pat the outside dry with paper towels to prevent steaming. Generously oil the baking pan to prevent sticking. Choose a spatula big enough to hold the whole fish or filet so it doesn't break when you're turning it or removing it from the pan. Use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature to avoid overcooking.
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