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 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. —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
Remove the skin from the fish either now, or before serving.
Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper to taste and place it in a baking dish that has been sprayed with a little oil.
Melt butter in a medium-sized bowl in the microwave. Be sure to cover the top of the bowl with a paper towel to save yourself clean up time inside the microwave.
Combine the bread crumbs with the butter until well coated, and spoon the crumb mixture over top of the fish. Cover the top of the fish evenly.
Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes if about 1 inch thick; about 30 minutes if 1 1/2 inches thick. When done, the fish should flake with a fork. Begin checking the fish for flakiness 5-10 minutes before it should be done. Sprinkle it with chopped fresh chives, and serve.