Fish has always intimidated me. I'm not sure why. It probably stems from growing up in a house where fish wasn't cooked—well, except for a few meals of fried catfish. Not long ago, I decided to take the plunge and jump in feet first. I wish I hadn't waited so long—baked fish is so easy! When you buy your fish, be sure that it doesn't smell too fishy. Fresh fish will be best, but frozen will work fine. Also, ask the cute fish guy or gal for a cut that is pretty consistent in thickness from one end to the other. If they are customer-oriented, they will do so with a smile on their face. If not, find another cute fish guy or gal. —vivisue
Test Kitchen Notes
I like to do all manner of fun things with fish, but I confess that baking is my favorite. High oven temperatures met with a watchful eye create the best texture for most fish, except maybe the crab cake, which I guess is not really fish.
Sometimes, the simplest, most old-fashioned preparation is in order. This halibut reminds me of something someone’s mother would make (not my mother, who largely contained herself to roast beef and rare steaks), or the sort of thing you order at lunch at an expense account fish restaurant in downtown Washington with a colleague because you guys are keeping it simple as you try to convince him, unsuccessfully, to take over the world. That’s one example.
All you are really doing here is adding old-fashioned salt and pepper and breadcrumbs, aided by butter, not oil. Watch your fish; mine was done in about 15 minutes, but this does depend on how thickly it is sliced. —Jestei
- Prep time 10 minutes
- Cook time 20 minutes
- Serves 4 to 6
1 1/2 pounds
halibut or cod
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Canola or olive oil, for the pan
- Heat the oven to 400°F. Remove the skin from the fish either now or before serving. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish that's been greased with a little oil.
- In a small heatproof bowl, melt the butter in the microwave. Be sure to cover the top of the bowl with a paper towel to save yourself cleanup time inside the microwave.
- Add the panko to the butter and stir well to combine. Spoon the buttered panko over the top of the fish.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes if the fish is about 1 inch thick; the timing will depend upon its thickness. Check the flakiness with a fork starting at the 10-minute mark and be careful not to overbake. Sprinkle the fish with the chives and serve.