Speaking of Fish...
Bubbe Lottie’s mother, Etta, was a feisty little redhead. During Prohibition
she ran a candy store, where in the back room she made cider. Occasionally
(through no fault of her own, of course) the cider would ferment and become
“hard.” When that happened, the candy store became quite busy. In
this fashion, Etta helped the family make it through hard times.
One year, just before Rosh Hashanah, she took Lottie with her when she
went to the fishmonger to buy fish for her Gefilte Fish. Determined to
have only the best and the freshest, she rejected one after the other that
the man offered her. As he dug through the case of fish looking for
one that would suit his picky customer, a fish jumped up and bit him on the
finger. “Lady, is this one fresh enough for you?” he asked. “It’ll
do,” Etta replied. “I’ll take it.”
The most important factor in cooking a fish is its freshness. The
sooner a fish is used after being caught, the tastier it will be. Check
for freshness by gently squeezing it...the flesh should be firm and the scales
firmly attached to the skin. It should smell good and its eyes should
be bulging, not sunken in the head. A recently caught fish will float in
If you cannot use your fish immediately, store it in a covered container
in a very cold refrigerator or place it on ice that you can drain, so that
the fish will not soak up the water. A whitish coating means that the fish
has dried out from being frozen and then defrosted.
Fish can be deep fried, baked, broiled, grilled, steamed or poached. Never
overcook your fish. A fish is done when the flesh loses its translucency
and it flakes easily and also returns to its original shape when you press
it gently with your finger. To minimize the “fishy” odor, marinate or
cook with vinegar, lemon, wine and onions. To get that odor off your
hands, rub them with lemon juice or vinegar. Never refreeze thawed frozen
fish. Cook it immediately. Fish can be cooked while frozen, just
double the recommended cooking time for fresh.
Fish can be either ocean fish or freshwater. Ocean fish include albacore,
butterfish, chub, cod, flounder, haddock, halibut, herring, mackerel, pompano,
porgy, red snapper, sardines, sole, tuna and whiting, among others. Freshwater
fish include bass, buffalo, carp, catfish, lake herring, perch, pike, sunfish,
brook trout and whitefish. Some fish are seasonal; others are available
all year round.
Fish are an excellent source of protein, much less fatty than meat. Leftover
fish can be used in salads or croquettes. Canned fish, such as tuna, salmon,
pickled and kippered herring and sardines come in handy when making a quick
dairy meal. Smoked white fish, lox (smoked salmon) and other smoked
fish from the local deli make a delightful addition to that meal or to a
dairy platter for a special occasion.
Find some of Bubbe's favorite fish recipes