Schooling In The Fine Art Of Microwaving Fish Filets

Posted: October 25, 1989

Nothing shows off the microwave's prowess faster than the cooking of delicate, lean, white fish. And no other method - not broiling, not grilling, not sauteing, not pan-frying, not stovetop steaming - beats the microwave's moist way of cooking when it comes to preserving every ounce of just-caught, sea-sweet flavor.

Of course, there are a couple of techniques to learn. Most important, perhaps, is the way you arrange the fish for microwaving. Filets are rarely of uniform thickness, so if the thin tapering ends are not to be overcooked before the fleshier central portions are done, they must be folded in, envelope-fashion, toward the center.

Despite the speed with which it cooks fish, the microwave can preserve the original delicate texture, provided you follow these recipes to the letter and add a healthy dash of T.L.C.

FILETS OF FISH AMANDINE

1 1/2 pounds flounder, sole or other flat fish, cut 1/4 inch thick

1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

1/3 cup slivered or sliced blanched almonds

In a shallow baking dish, arrange fish filets one-half inch apart with the thickest portions toward the outside. Fold any tapering ends in toward the center, envelope-fashion. Sprinkle evenly with lemon juice. Cover with paper towel. Microwave on high power (100 percent) for 4 1/2 to 7 minutes, rotating the dish 180 degrees halfway through cooking time, just until fish is opaque.

Cover fish with foil, and let stand for two minutes. Probe fish with a fork; it should just flake. If fish is underdone, remove foil, re-cover with paper towel, and microwave on high power in 30-second increments, testing between each.

Meanwhile, in an eight-inch pie plate covered with wax paper, melt the butter by microwaving on high power for 25 to 30 seconds. Mix in almonds. Microwave, uncovered, on high power for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes, stirring after 1 1/2 minutes, until lightly browned.

Drain liquid from fish (save for stock or soup, if you like). Sprinkle fish with almonds, and serve. Makes four servings.

Note: In ovens of less than 600 watts, increase cooking times about 15 percent.

BAHAMIAN STEAMED RED SNAPPER

1/2 cup tissue-thin onion rings

1 cup canned crushed tomatoes

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

2 bay leaves, crumbled

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 pounds red snapper, pompano, cod or haddock filets, cut 3/4 to 1 inch thick

2 tablespoons minced chives

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce

In a 2 1/2- or 3-quart casserole, combine onion rings, tomatoes, garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Cover with a lid or vented plastic wrap, and microwave on high power for five minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time.

Lay fish on top, placing skin-side down if filets are unskinned, and folding any tapered ends in toward the center. Sprinkle with minced chives and hot red pepper sauce.

Cover with wax paper, and microwave on medium power (50 percent) for 9 to 13 minutes, rotating dish halfway through cooking time, and, if filets are one-inch thick, turning them over as well.

Cover fish with foil and let stand for two minutes. Probe fish with fork; it should just flake. If fish is underdone, remove foil, re-cover with paper towel and microwave on high power (100 percent) in 30-second increments, testing between each.

When fish tests done, lift to heated plates, whisk butter into casserole sauce, and spoon an equal amount over each portion. Makes four servings.

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