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Julie Kelly's Blog

Two Fish Preparations – One For Adults and One For Kids

Before there were chicken fingers, there were fish sticks. For most of us growing up in the 1970s and 80s, this was the only way our moms would cook fish. Unlike today, fresh seafood choices were limited – so mom trusted the Gorton’s fisherman to supply that occasional fish fix. 

Fish and shellfish are among the easiest, most versatile ingredients to prepare yet many novice home cooks are hesitant to try. Most home cooks fear the fish will be undercooked; this leads to overcooking that renders the poor little fellow dry and tasteless. And, yes, the smell isn’t always pleasant, either.

There are many preparation options for fish: grilling, poaching, steaming and pan searing to name a few. Fish is also a perfect platform to deliver any flavor profile from Italian to Asian to Mediterranean.

As adults, we know eating fish is part of a healthy, balanced diet. Getting kids to eat fish is a more difficult task. It’s unlikely your teenager will swoon over a dish of poached sea bass with steamed vegetables but this doesn’t mean you should eliminate fish from your family’s dinner repertoire.

Here are two easy fish recipes to try this week. One is a recipe for tilapia bites to please the younger crowd and they won’t even know it’s fish. My niece – one of the pickiest eaters on the planet – consumed several before I informed her it was fish, not chicken. Make several batches if you have the time; they freeze well and you can also serve as an appetizer in a pinch.

The second recipe is a classic preparation of fish en papillote, or fish in parchment paper. While the photos show sea bass, you can use tilapia or halibut as well. Do not use a dense fish like mahi mahi or swordfish, it’s not conducive to this cooking method.

The only trick here is to ensure the parchment “envelope” is securely closed. Take your time to really seal the edges so the liquid doesn’t seep out. Use a jelly roll pan just in case some of the marinade escapes during the cooking process. You can serve the fish and vegetables on their own or over sautéed spinach or even some mashed Yukon gold potatoes.

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"Julie, I really enjoyed your class and took way more away than I ever thought I would. I never in a million years thought a cooking class would make me excited to try new things!! So my hat's off to you. You are a great teacher and the recipes are so good!" 


Susie C., Orland Park