Fish in a Flash

Howard L. Puckett
Sit down to sumptuous seafood in less than 30 minutes.

On the long list of reasons to love seafood, short cooking time may be second only to irresistible flavor. Of course, there's also the impressive nutrition profile to consider: the heart-healthy fats, low calories, and all those studies that link fish consumption with improved intellectual performance.

On a practical basis, fish means a fabulous meal on the table within 30 minutes--using handy ingredients and simple cooking techniques. That's what really inspires ardent seafood lovers. Follow these tips for success.

• Ask your fishmonger when the seafood was delivered. If it was that day, you can store it in your refrigerator for another day or two.
• Fish should smell clean and faintly of the ocean, lake, or river. If it smells like iodine, ammonia, or otherwise strong, it's old.
• If you plan to cook the fish within two hours of purchase, leave it in the market packaging in the refrigerator; just before cooking, rinse fish under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Otherwise, go ahead and unwrap, rinse, and pat dry; line a plate with a dry paper towel, lay the fish in a single layer, then top with another paper towel. Store in the refrigerator.
• Rinse all shellfish, too, before cooking. If it will be seared in a pan, be sure to pat it dry.
• Keep a pair of tweezers or needle-nose pliers on hand for removing as many bones as possible.
• All food continues to cook a bit after being taken from its heat source, so factor that in to the cooking time.

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