Fish is brain food – at least that’s what my Momma says. I think she’s referring to all those omega 3s and essential fatty acids that are supposed to feed your brain all the right things so your children will be brilliant. I could never understand how something called “fatty acids” could be good for you, but I don’t argue with my Momma. Of course, you could go for fish oil, but I say get it directly from the source!

After gefilte, salmon seems to be the kosher fish of choice in most kitchens, probably because it’s the most “pareve” of all fish in flavor; not strong or fishy – kinda neutral, like Switzerland. Even though I’m an adventurous fish eater, a perfect piece of pink salmon is still a pleasure for me.

How do you buy a piece of salmon? 

You have two choices: a salmon fillet is cut from the side of the fish. It should be devoid of bones, not smell fishy, and should be a nice red, in color – which will result in perfect pink flesh when cooked up. A salmon steak, on the other hand, is cut across the spine of the fish and tends to be trickier to filet, so if you buy a steak, you may have to wrangle with a few stray bones.

The key to great fish is freshness, so definitely go to a reputable place to purchase. Seek out a fish store that is busy and has frequent turnover. 

What about Trout?

Trout. The word itself is plaid and sporty, evoking images of anglers standing in pristine waters at break of day. They want to bring home the Big One, a fish worthy of the effort and patience invested in catching it. Have you ever gone trout fishing and experienced that ecstatic rush when you feel a tug at the end of your line? Ok, neither have I.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a nice trout dinner once in a while. Prepared correctly, trout makes an exquisite meal. My grandfather, a”h, was an outstanding gourmet chef, a restaurateur who knew that you don’t need elaborate preparation to create a true gourmet experience. He would buy a rainbow trout fillet (with the skin on) and sprinkle it with some kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and paprika, drizzle it with olive oil and broil it until it was crispy around the edges. That was all! The minute I took my first bite of his wonderful trout, my love affair began with that fish. I’ve loved it ever since and even included that simple recipe in my first cookbook, Quick & Kosher: Recipes From the Bride Who Knew Nothing.

Now for some fish dinners featuring salmon that can be ready in 30 minutes, let's go!

Tilapia

If you’ve never eaten tilapia, you’ve been missing out on a flaky, white delicacy that’s low in fat, low in calories (half the cals of salmon), low in carbs, high in protein and very versatile in recipes. Its mild flavor and light-bodied texture allow it to absorb seasonings and spices very well.  Many people warn to avoid tilapia now because of the farming practices in some places, but it really depends on where your fish comes from.  Learn more about the safety and sustainability of Tilapia here

On to Snapper

Whenever I hear the words “red snapper,” I think of a sassy fish with attitude. Actually, that’s not so far off. Red Snapper has a faintly nutty flavor and a firm texture, which is great for picking up subtle spices, as well as those in-your-face hot chili sauces! It’s a little pricier than trout or tilapia, but well worth it, if you ask me.

And Sole...

There’s food and then there’s food. Dover sole is one of life’s culinary delicacies and can cost you more than a steak at most restaurants. It’s white, firm, mild-flavored and best paired with a lemon wine sauce. It’s so easy to eat – just one of those things that goes down easy. It’s a super-thin piece of fish, too: you don’t even need teeth to enjoy it (but don’t waste it on the baby!)

At the fish counter, you’re most likely to find lemon sole or gray sole much more affordable, and it’s still delicious.

The best thing about fish is how quickly it cooks, it is even great raw or cured, as in sushi, crudo, gravlax or ceviche.  Fish can be your savior in getting a dinner on the table that looks like it came from a gourmet restaurant in under 30 minutes. 

What's your favorite fish to cook or eat?