Topping for Baked Fish

I learned from the Bahamians and many Latin cultures, to marinate the fish in the refrigerator for (at least) 1 hour, and up to 3 hours ahead.

For every pound of fish, you can make 3 portions (or 2 larger portions). Cut filets to serving size pieces and transfer to a glass bowl (with lid, if available). 

Squeeze over the juice of 1 lime and 1 lemon per pound of fish, season with 1 teaspoons Morton Nature’s Seasoning seasoned salt and some crushed red pepper or cayenne. Toss to evenly coat each piece of fish; cover and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours (up to 3 hours max) before removing pieces to bake.

30 MINUTES BEFORE SERVING: Run the oven up to 450 degrees

While the oven is heating, select a low-sided baking dish that will fit your fish portions in 1 even layer – and the dish should not be much larger than the surface area to be covered by the fish. On the opposite hand, your baking dish cannot be so small as to crowd the portions in the pan, which will not produce even cooking.

Drizzle the pan with just a bit of olive oil (about a tablespoon) and use your first couple of pieces of fish to move the oil evenly over the bottom of the pan..

Prepare a topping for the filets:

  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Mayonnaise
  • 3 teaspoons fresh dill (use 1 teaspoon if using dried dill)
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 cloves of very finely chopped fresh garlic
  • Optional: add some anchovy paste
  • Garnish top of fish (before baking) with chopped scallions and capers

Combine all topping ingredients in a small bowl and stir well. Spoon sauce in center of each filet, smoothing the topping evenly on top of each filet using the back of the spoon.

I like to use garlic powder in some recipes. Fresh is king, and I chop a lot of garlic, but sometimes I like using the granular garlic (not powder) to flavor things or sprinkle on top of pepperoni pizza! It works well in sauces where it blends-in with the creamy texture of the sauce or dressing.

Cooking at high temperature for a short period of time is the key to preparing fish well and especially this recipe. Oven should be well preheated.

Bake, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness of filets. Do not overcook fish in the oven – this is enough time for most filets. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before serving, and carry-over cooking will finish the inside of the fish.

Chef note: You can experiment with the ratio of mayonnaise to mustard but I have found 3 to 1 to be a good ratio. I have found that too much mayo gives off a greasy sauce, but you need the moisture from the mayo to create juicy fish with a nice sauce. It’s a balance.

Dinner of Wreckfish, prepared with this fish recipe, Potato and Cabbage Casserole, and roasted vegetables

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