What's your favorite way to prepare fish when entertaining?

I sometimes shy away from cooking fish for guests because you typically need to cook it last-minute, and because if you get sidetracked, you can easily overcook it. With that in mind, what's your favorite method for cooking fish when entertaining -- saute, roast (high heat, low heat?), poached in olive oil? Since one cooking method doesn't fit all fish, I'll include my favorites: arctic char, halibut, and wild salmon.

  • Posted by: EmilyC
  • November 3, 2011


Greenstuff November 7, 2011
Late to the party here too. My favorite for parties is slow-roasted salmon. The timing is unimportant, as the fish does not overcook and it can be eaten warm or at room temperature. I usually serve it with a sauce gribiche, but it's great with just a squirt of lemon or any other favorite topping.

1 salmon fillet, with or without the skin
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°. Put a pan of water on the lowest rack of the oven. This will make for a moist environment for the fish. Place the other rack above the one with the pan.

Lightly coat the salmon fillet (top and bottom) with olive oil. Place on a baking sheet. Salt and pepper to your taste.

Bake for about an hour. The exact timing is not important.

Let the fish rest for at least 10 minutes or up to several hours before serving.
nutcakes November 7, 2011
Sorry if this is a late answer but I never pressed 'add' a couple of days ago.

I like to sear portions off to get a crust, on one side, then put them in the oven to finish. Everything must be ready to go ahead for when the fish is ready and you have to check it frequently.

Here is my secret weapon. A tower of seared salmon on a bed of basmati or jasmine rice with a fine shredded asian slaw on top, dotted with Thai Red Curry Sauce. This is from Terra in Norther CA and is a pretty famous recipe, I often use sesame seeds instead of peanuts. You can time everything pretty well on this, make the curry ahead, and I get a restaurant quality tasting and looking dish.

Bevi November 4, 2011
I make this dish: http://www.food52.com/recipes/11500_scrod_in_roasted_tomato_broth

It's inspired by Jamie Oliver, and you can easily double the recipe, and use various types of fish. It's easy and pretty forgiving. The fish remains tender and moist.
Helen's A. November 4, 2011
Jacque Pepin's Fish Bread, always a winner, can be made ahead...very yummy!
ChefJune November 4, 2011
Add your answer here
boulangere November 3, 2011
Depending on the size of the party, I agree with ipk, and go the chilled route. I also love chilled seafood mousses.
Ms. T. November 3, 2011
I like bouillabaisse or cioppino for a dinner party. You can do all the hard work ahead of time, and then just add the seafood 10-15 minutes before serving. Add a big salad and crusty bread with rouille or aioli, et voila!
ellenl November 3, 2011
ChefJune, would you post that as a recipe, please? It sounds wonderful!
ellenl November 3, 2011
ChefJune, would you post that as a recipe, please? It sounds wonderful!
creamtea November 3, 2011
I make a Portuguese marinated fish from an old Gourmet article about the Portuguese community on cape cod. Original called for scallops, but since I don't eat shellfish, I use cod. These days I steam it first (used to marinate it raw). Then marinate in lime, garlic + salt, olive oil, minced red and green bell peppers, a dash of dry hot red pepper (flakes or Aleppo or alternatively minced serrano or jalapeno). I serve as an appetizer over soft lettuce leaves.
nutcakes November 4, 2011
This sounds great, can you post it or link it?
creamtea November 7, 2011
Portuguese marinated cod:
1/2 C. fresh lime juice (3-4 limes)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
6T olive oil
1 lb. cod in 1/2 - 3/4 in. dice
2T minced cilantro
1 small red bell pepper
1 small green bell pepper
soft-leafed lettuce for lining the bowl
salt and pepper

Combine lime juice, garlic, pepper flakes in bowl; add oil in a stream, whisking. Stir in cod, bell peppers. Refrigerate overnight. Add cilantro and serve. (Note: I now steam the cod in the microwave or bake it in Pyrex or wrapped in foil--your choice).
creamtea November 7, 2011
er, meant to say that the red and green bell peppers should be diced small...
EmilyC November 3, 2011
Thank you -- these are all great ideas!
petitbleu November 3, 2011
Fish baked in salt is really lovely. Succulent and simple. You might also consider some sort of ceviche-type dish...
Ms. T. November 3, 2011
Agreed--whole fish baked in salt is a really fun and impressive preparation. Almost like dinner theater. I think it works best for a small group of people that are pretty comfortable with one another. When I did it, it was so good we were picking at the fish with our fingers--delicious and fun, but I wouldn't have done it for a dinner party with my boss! I'm sure most people have a more elegant approach than I do...but it is a pretty "hands on" method.
amysarah November 3, 2011
If it's a cozy little dinner for 4, I might do a last minute thing - e.g., seared scallops. For a big group, I like roasting a whole fish. An entire filet of salmon works well too - super easy, delicious, and it 'holds' well - in fact, it need not be piping hot when served. I usually make a salsa verde, or spicy tomato/roast pepper sauce, or creamy horseradish one to serve along with it (sometimes two of them, if there are enough guests.) I really like the 'Master Sauces' in the River Cafe cookbooks (by Rogers & Gray) for this - really tasty, earthy, and elegant without being fussy. I have the books, but I'm sure their recipes can easily be found online.
ChefJune November 3, 2011
sorry! I didn't know the recipe would appear all run together.
nutcakes November 4, 2011
Yeah, big wall o' text is so awful, perhaps a site upgrade thing? Not your fault.
ChefJune November 3, 2011
I make something like this: Falafel-Crusted Salmon on a bed of Spinach

6 servings

2 wild salmon fillets, about 1 pound each, skin removed
Dijon mustard
1 cup “Fantastic Falafel” mix
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon freshly ground cumin
extra virgin olive oil (to film the pan)
2 additional tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sized onion, chopped
2 bags (10 ounces each) fresh spinach, stemmed, well washed and dried
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1. Cut each salmon fillet into 3 equal servings. Put a thin coat of mustard on top of each piece.

2..In a small flat bowl or plate, blend falafel mix with pepper and cumin. Place both the fish and falafel plates near your cooking surface.
3. Film a large non-stick skillet with the olive oil over medium-high heat. Dip the mustard side of each piece of salmon in the falafel mixture. Shake off excess and place in the hot oil, crumb-side down. Cook until almost done (and well browned) before turning the pieces over (about 4 minutes). Cook about 4 more minutes. Remove to a warm platter and keep warm.

4. Add about 2 tablespoons olive oil to the skillet and sauté the onion until soft (about 4 minutes). Add the garlic and ginger and sauté briefly. Add the well-dried spinach to the pan and cook until wilted. When the spinach is almost dry, add the balsamic vinegar and toss gently to coat the spinach.

or I might bake a whole fish with vegetables, Greek style.
SKK November 3, 2011
I serve halibut en papillote. Make individual servings and wrap them several hours before guests arrive. They can be topped with vegetables, cream sauces, crab - no limit. Bake them for about 12 minutes and serve.
Recently served them at dinner for 14 - big hit.
sdebrango November 3, 2011
I agree with Pat and also like you I shy away from serving fish when entertaining unless I can get a whole fish fillet. Sometimes I make paella which has seafood and its large enough to serve many, it doesn't incorporate your favorites but is usually a crowd pleaser. Jenny did it successfully a few months ago I can't remember what type of fish it was but she served it at a dinner party. She baked it.
inpatskitchen November 3, 2011
I love to poach salmon and serve it cool or at room temperature.. for a crowd, a whole fish poached and then beautifully presented is a great way to go. Your work is done well before guests arrive!!
inpatskitchen November 3, 2011
And serve a couple of sauces with the salmon..cucumber dill comes to mind.
Another idea is this beautiful salmon and leek pie which I've made a number of times and can be prepped for the oven at least an hour before baking
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