My husband balks at fish when it isn’t fried. And he has passed on his bias to our daughters. Of course, it has a lot to do with how fish was cooked when he was a child. The fact that his mother had a bias in favor of fried fish should explain a lot. Maybe it is a generation thing. My own father fried fish all the time. To a crisp. It’s nice, actually, except that if the temperature of the cooking oil is not high enough, the fish absorbs a lot of oil and the fried fish tastes greasy. I mean, it really leaves a taste of cooking oil in your mouth. And I cannot stand that. Plus, there’s the fact that I hate frying because I don’t like cleaning up oil spatters.
To escape frying, I have resorted to grilling our fish, and cooking a lot of fish soups and steamed fish dishes. Then I saw an episode of Avventura in the Discovery Travel & Living Channel. This rustic restaurant innkeeper baked a whole fish with a lot of vegetables, herbs and spices. I decided to try it. This is a much simpler version of the Italian baked fish though.
This is very easy to cook, really, but final result is a very tasty and aromatic fish dish.
River cobblers have a light delicate flavor and it is best not to overpower that with too many vegetables and herbs. It is a better idea to instead highlight the fish’s delicate flavor.
Pour a little olive oil on the bottom of a baking dish. Arrange the fish fillets side by side. Squeeze half a lemon over the fish fillets then top them with onion leaves cut into 2-inch lengths, finely sliced onions, crushed garlic, some basil and cilantro leaves and some lemon zest. Sprinkle with salt (herbed salt, if you have it) and ground pepper. Pour in more olive oil. Cover the baking dish with foil, leaving a corner open to allow steam to escape. Bake in a 180oC oven for 20-30 minutes.
So, that’s how the cooked river cobbler fillets look after baking. With dishes like this, my husband does not seem to miss fried fish. Neither do the kids.