Friday, May 27, 2011


A fish is any gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate (or craniate) animal that lacks limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous andbony fish, as well as various extinct related groups. Because the term is defined negatively, and excludes the tetrapods (i.e., the amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals) which descend from within the same ancestry, it is paraphyletic. The traditional term pisces (also ichthyes) is considered a typological, but not a phylogeneticclassification.
Most fish are "cold-blooded", or ectothermic, allowing their body temperatures to vary as ambient temperatures change. Fish are abundant in most bodies of water. They can be found in nearly all aquatic environments, from high mountain streams (e.g., char and gudgeon) to the abyssal and even hadal depths of the deepest oceans (e.g.,gulpers and anglerfish). At 31,900 species, fish exhibit greater species diversity than any other class of vertebrates.
Fish, especially as food, are an important resource worldwide. Commercial and subsistence fishers hunt fish in wild fisheries (see fishing) or farm them in ponds or in cages in the ocean (see aquaculture). They are also caught by recreational fishers, kept as pets, raised by fishkeepers, and exhibited in public aquaria. Fish have had a role in culture through the ages, serving as deities, religious symbols, and as the subjects of art, books and movies.

Cuts of Fish

FilletSide of Salmona fillet is a boneless cut such as a side of Salmon or a fillet of soleFillet of Sole
Paupietteis a stuffed roll of fillet
Salmon Paupiette
SupremeA supreme is a slice cut off a fillet, sometimes cut at a slantThis cut is now commonly called a pavéwhich means 'a slab or block' and usually applied to cake or dessert - but now is fashionably applied to fish!
Cravatteis a fillet tied in a knot
Darneis a cut of steak of round fish cut on the bone
Deliceis a neatly folded fillet
a strip of fillet usually pané (floured, eggwashed and breadcrumbed)

En Tressea platted fillet
en tresse

How to cook Pan-seared Salmon with a Tangy Thai Sauce

This salmon recipe is melt-in-your-mouth delicious! Fillets or steaks of marinated salmon are pan-fried, searing in the flavors and omega-3 goodness of the fish. The salmon is then served with a tangy Thai lemongrass-honey sauce that marries perfectly with salmon's natural flavors. A healthy, low-fat, and extremely delicious recipe that can be made in under 30 minutes. Great for an everyday dinner entree that even your kids will love.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yield: SERVES 2-4
  • 2-4 salmon fillets (if making more, double the marinade/sauce) - if frozen, thaw in a bowl of cool water
  • 1-3 Tbsp. canola oil (or other vegetable oil) for frying
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar (or sustitute white vinegar or apple cider vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 fresh red chili, minced or finely sliced, OR substitute 1/2 to 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce (available in tall bottles at Asian/Chinese food stores)
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. dark soy sauce (or substitue 1 extra Tbsp. regular soy sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp. minced lemongrass (see link for lemongrass tips)
  • handful of fresh coriander or flat-leaf parsley
  1. To make the marinade/sauce, place all marinade ingredients together in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir as you bring the sauce to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered. The sauce will gradually thicken (the smell of the vinegar is rather pungent as it cooks). When marinade/sauce has thickened, place in the refrigerator or freezer to cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Place salmon fillets in a flat-bottomed pan or cassarole dish (so that fillets aren't piled on top of each other). When the sauce/marinade has cooled (warm instead of hot), spoon 2 Tbsp. over each fillet, 1 per side, slathering it over the flesh (reserve the remaining sauce for later). Marinate in the refrigerator 10 minutes or up to 24 hours.
  4. Place a frying pan or wok on medium-high heat, allowing it to warm up for at least 1 minute before adding the oil (this will help prevent the fish from sticking).
  5. When pan is hot, add 1-2 Tbsp. oil, lifting and turning the pan to distribute evenly. Now place fillets in the pan.
  6. Allow salmon to fry at least 2 minutes undisturbed before turning. If you turn the fish too soon, it will stick. Instead, allow it to "sear", and it will come freely away from the bottom of the pan.
  7. Fry the fish 3-5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fish. Salmon is done when inner flesh is no longer transparent. For faster cooking, cover fish while it's frying.
  8. To serve: arrange on a serving platter or plates. Spoon a little of the sauce over each fillet. Place the rest in a side dish and serve as a dipping sauce (it can be re-heated or served at room temperature).
  9. Serve with Thai jasmine-scented rice, potatoes, or salad. If you want to spice things up, serve it with my Nam Prik Pao Chili Sauce Recipe on the side. Enjoy!

How to Cook Thai Fillet of Fish Baked in Banana Leaf

You'll love this tender and wonderful-tasting Thai baked fish. Slathered in a fragrant coconut sauce, the fillet is then wrapped in banana leaves (OR tin foil/parchment paper) and baked in the oven. Coconut rice makes an excellent optional accompaniment (see recipe link), or serve with plain rice or potatoes. Nearly any type of fish will work in this recipe, including salmon, red snapper, cod, tilapia, sole, etc...) An easy and healthy fish recipe that's also fun to make, and the taste is truly gourmet. Enjoy!

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: SERVES 2-3


  • 2-3 fillets salmon, red snapper, cod, or other fish, preferably fresh, but frozen will work too
  • 1 pkg. banana leaves (if frozen, thaw for at least 1/2 hour) OR 2-4 sheets parchment paper, OR tin foil
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal (or ginger), sliced
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • handful of basil leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1/2 can good-quality coconut milk
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, snipped into slivers with scissors, OR 1 tsp. lime zest
  • 1 fresh red chili, sliced, OR 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili from the spice aisle
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • juice of 1/2 lime


For an easier version of this recipe (with pictures), see: How to Make Thai Fish in Banana Leaf Packets with Coconut-Basil Sauce.
  1. Place all curry marinade/sauce ingredients in a food processor (or blender) and process well.
  2. Place fish fillets in a large bowl and add 1/2 the curry marinade. Reserve the rest for later.
  3. Slather the marinade over both sides of the fish, then let it sit in the refrigerator 10 to 15 minutes. Tip: If you're pressed for time, you can cook the fish immediately, as the flavors are so strong, they will still permeate the fish sufficiently.
  4. When fish is done marinading, spread a banana leaf approximately 1 foot square on a working surface (you will have to cut the leaf) - or the equivalent of parchment paper or tin foil. Place one fillet in the center of the leaf/paper/foil.
  5. Fold both sides of the wrapping material over the fish, then fold both ends to create a square "packet". Turn it seam-side down to keep sides from opening (unless using foil, which will stay by itself). Do the same for the other fillets.
  6. Place packets in a glass casserole dish or pie plate (to catch the drippings in case packets leak) and bake for 15 min. at 350 degrees, or longer depending on the thickness of the fillets.
  7. After 15 minutes, open one of the packets. Insert a fork into the center of the fillet or steak (the thickest part) and gently pull back. If inside flesh is opaque and no longer transparent, the fish is cooked. If not, return to oven for another 5-10 minutes.
  8. Over low heat, warm up the reserved curry sauce/marinade.
  9. To serve the fish, scoop several spoonfuls of rice onto the side of the fish (right on the banana leaf, if using). Spoon some curry sauce (marinade) over the fish, then add a sprinkling of basil and/or coriander leaves.
Serving Tips: This dish goes especially well with Easy Thai Coconut Rice. Serve with a chilled white wine or blush, or a cold lager, and enjoy this "quintessentially Thai" eating experience!

How to Cook Pan-Fried Fish with Thai Lemon-Herb Sauce

This pan-fried fish recipe is melt-in-your-mouth delicious and easy to make. The fish is lightly seared in a hot pan with a little oil for 5-8 minutes, then topped with a simple no-cook lemon-herb Thai sauce that really compliments the flavor of the fish and lets its tenderness shine through. Wonderful with rice, but equally good with potatoes, this easy fish recipe makes a great meal and is simple enough to fry up any night of the week. ENJOY!

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Total Time: 23 minutes


  • SERVES 2-3
  • 2-3 white-fleshed fish steaks or fillets, such as halibut, cod, tilapia, trout, etc...
  • handful of fresh sweet basil leaves
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. oil for frying
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil OR olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2+1/2 Tbsp. fish sauce (available in tall bottles at Asian/Chinese food stores)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup fresh coriander leaves and stems, chopped
  • 2 spring (green) onions, sliced
  • 1 red chili, minced, OR 3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, OR for mild fish substitute 2-3 Tbsp. minced red bell pepper
  • 1+1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut milk or coconut cream


  1. Place all lemon-herb sauce ingredients together in a sauce pan. Stir together and set aside.
  2. Rinse fish and pat dry. Then, using a paper towel or clean tea towel, pat the fish on both sides, absorbing any remaining moisture. (This is the secret to getting a good sear.)
  3. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, add the oil and swirl around. Reduce heat to medium. Place fish in pan and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Do not move the fish once you have placed it in the pan or the flesh will tear. Cover and allow fish to fry undisturbed for at least 2 minutes before turning. If pan is smoking, reduce heat to medium-low.
  5. Turn the fish, but again, don't move it around - allow it to fry undisturbed for another 2 minutes with the cover on. Lightly season the second side with salt and pepper.
  6. Fish is cooked when the inner flesh is opaque when gently pulled apart with a fork. One inch thickness will take roughly 5-6 minutes. (The halibut steaks shown here took 8 minutes)
  7. Place lemon-herb sauce over medium heat for 2 minutes, or until warm. (Don't boil the sauce or it will lose its fresh flavor and nutrients.)
  8. Before serving, taste-test the sauce. Note that this sauce tends toward the sour side; however, feel free to sweeten it with a little more sugar if it's too sour for you. If it's too spicy, add a little more coconut milk. If not salty enough, add more fish sauce. If too salty, add another squeeze of lemon or lime juice.
  9. To serve, place the fish fillets or steaks on individual plates. Spoon the sauce over and serve any extra on the side. Sprinkle with sweet basil leaves. This fish goes well with rice, but is also delicious with potatoes. ENJOY!
Optional Serving Suggestion: In Thailand, this kind of fish would be served with the following simple condiment: 3-4 Tbsp. soy sauce mixed with 1 fresh red chili (minced).

How to Cook Easy Thai Fish Curry

This fish curry tastes so delectable, you won't believe how fast and easy it is - ready in just 20 minutes! Fillets of fish (any type, fresh or frozen) are simmered in a rich Thai curry sauce. The recipe includes vegetables for a healthy one-pot dish. If you like, you can also add shrimp or other seafood to the pot/wok. Like all curries, this fish curry makes excellent leftovers as well as hot lunches to take to work. And it's ready in less than 30 minutes!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Yield: Serves 2 to 4
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander stems and leaves, chopped
  • 1 can good-quality coconut milk
  • 4 green onions, sliced (including green stem)
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal or ginger, grated
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce (available at Asian food stores)
  • 1 Tbsp. regular chili powder (use only 1 tsp. if using Thai or East Indian chili powder)
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. shrimp paste
  • 1 fresh red chili, minced, OR 1/2 tsp. cayenne OR dried crushed chili, OR 1-2 tsp.chili sauce
  • 3-4 fillets of fresh or frozen fish - any type, from sole to salmon
  • Handful fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, de-seeded and diced
  • 1 medium tomato, cut into small pieces
  • Handful of fresh basil
  • Handful of fresh coriander
  • Fresh lime or lemon wedges for garnish
  • Optional: 2-3 kaffir lime leaves, left whole (available at Asian stores, usually in the freezer)
  1. Place all 'Thai Curry Sauce' ingredients in a food processor, chopper, or blender. Process well to form a smooth curry sauce.
  2. Pour the sauce into a wok (or large frying pan) and place over medium to high heat. If you have kaffir lime leaves, add them too. Bring to a boil.
  3. Add fish, mushrooms, and red pepper. Stir well. Reduce heat to medium-high, or until it is simmering nicely. Cover and cook 6-8 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes and gently stir in. Continue simmering (covered) for another 2-3 minutes.
  5. Do a taste test for salt and sweetness, adding more fish sauce (instead of salt) until salty enough. If too sour for your taste, add a little more sugar. If too salty or sweet, add 1-2 Tbsp. fresh lime (or lemon) juice.
  6. Spoon the fish with curry sauce and vegetables onto a serving platter or into a serving bowl. Sprinkle with fresh basil and coriander. Garnish with lime or lemon wedges and serve hot with rice. Enjoy!

How to Cook Classic Thai Fish Cakes

Thai Fish Cakes are a common street food in Thailand, and are very flavorful compared to most Western fish cake recipes. They aren't battered, which I find allows for more of the fresh taste of the fish, spices, and herbs to come through. These cakes are best eaten fresh out of the oil while they're still hot and juicy. Served them with or without rice, and accompany with Thai sweet chili sauce, chopped cucumber, fresh coriander, and a squeeze of lime juice. Simply delicious!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yield: SERVES 4-6 OR 2-3 as Main Entree
  • 1 lb (.454 kg) white-fleshed fish fillets (I like cod)
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves, snipped into thin strips with scissors
  • 3 Tbsp. coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. shrimp paste
  • 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/3 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 red chili, sliced, OR 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cucumber (to accompany cakes)
  • oil for high temp. frying
  • To SERVE: Thai sweet chili sauce, lime wedges, handful fresh coriander
For Western-style fish cakes (the larger, breaded variety), see my delicious: Thai-style Fish Cakes Recipe (with Sweet Chili & Basil Mayo).
  1. Rinse fish and pat thoroughly dry (if using frozen, the fish will be more moist so be sure to dry it as well as you can). Cut into chunks and place in food processor or large food chopped.
  2. In a cup, combine the coconut milk, fish sauce, shrimp paste, chili powder, cumin, ground coriander, and brown sugar. Stir with a fork to combine, then pour into the processor over the fish.
  3. Add remaining ingredients (lime leaf strips, green onion, galangal/ginger, garlic, and chili). Pulse to create a thick fish paste.
  4. Picking up a small amount in your hand (about the size of a golf ball) pat the paste into a small cake and set on a clean plate. Note that traditional Thai fish cakes are small (about 2 inches in diameter and 3/4 to 1 inch thick) and not too thick. Tips: If your paste is too wet to easily form into cakes, add a little flour or breadcrumbs to the mix. As you continue making the cakes, it helps to rinse your hands every so often with cool water to prevent paste from sticking.
  5. Set plate of cakes in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to firm up. Meanwhile, prepare your pan for frying as well as your garnishes. Pour oil into a small frying pan or wok (at least 1 inch deep).
  6. Cut the cucumber length-wise, then dice up into small cubes. Set aside
  7. Heat oil. When hot enough (a breakcrumb should sizzle and cook immediately when dropped in), gently place cakes in oil. Allow to fry 30 seconds to 1 minute before turning, gently lifting cakes from the bottom of the pan (they may stick a little). Fry until golden-brown and drain on paper towel.<./li>
  8. Serve fish cakes immediately with the chopped cucumber and Thai sweet chili sauce drizzled over. Top with fresh coriander and a squeeze of lime juice just before eating. Excellent like this, or served with rice for a main course dish. ENJOY!
Make Ahead Tip: You can make the fish paste up to 24 hours in advance. Cover and set in the refrigerator, then form into cakes and fry.