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Fin fare makes for quick seafood entrees

In labeling our topic du jour "quick seafood entrees," we admit to some redundancy. By definition, seafood is quick to cook. Ergo, besides its many nutritional virtues, seafood helps you get dinner on the table in very little time, generally with very little effort.

Unless, of course, you're doing something like making a seafood soup base by simmering skin, bones, shells, etc., for hours to reduce the ingredients to their most intense flavor. But, that's a topic for another time.

Our aim is to provide a few suggestions for main dishes that feature seafood at its best, whether you favor fin fare or shellfish. Read on.…

Saffroned tilapia

We begin with a mild, almost non-fishy fish — tilapia, which is a farm-raised trout. Its flesh is firm enough to grill, but it has virtually no "fishy" smell and it's mild enough for even the die-hard critics of fin fare.

If its mild manners aren't enough, in this case we bake it with a tomato-based, herbed saffron sauce.

On the side, provide some orzo pilaf, which you can fix by sauteing shredded carrots, tiny broccoli tops, some mushrooms and a bit of onion until tender, then adding to the orzo when it's done. Add a green salad, with balsamic vinaigrette, if you've the time.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/3 cup finely chopped sweet onion

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups peeled, seeded, canned tomatoes (whole plum tomatoes work well), drained well, then diced

2/3 cup fresh orange juice

1/3 cup dry white wine

1/4 teaspoon each, dried basil, oregano, sea salt, pepper

1/4 teaspoon saffron threads

6 (4-ounce) tilapia fillets

1 tablespoon lemon juice

For the sauce, in a large, non-stick skillet, over medium, heat olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add onion and garlic and saute until onions are opaque. Add tomatoes, orange juice, wine, basil, oregano, salt, pepper and saffron. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To finish, heat oven to 450 degrees. Spray-coat a 9- x 12-inch baking dish. Arrange fish fillets in dish. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Spoon on the tomato sauce. Cover and bake until fish is tender, about 8 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Rockfish Chesapeake

We're using Old Bay (or other favorite seafood spice mix) for this very simple dish. And although rock fish (striped bass) is a more personable fish than tilapia, the familiar spice (and, of course, the sweet crab) will ease your family's "concerns."

We like this with cole slaw. As to the slaw: If you're watching your fat intake, add some caraway seeds and a light vinaigrette to store-bought coleslaw mix. If you're in a sinful mood, try this: Whisk together 6 bacon slices, cooked crisp and crumbled, plus 1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, and 1-1/2 teaspoons honey in a large bowl. Add 8 ounces store-bought cole slaw and mix well. Add 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese. Cover and let stand while you prepare the fish. And the — gasp! — frozen fries (regular or sweet potato).

6 (4-ounce) striped bass steaks (about 3/4 inch thick)

3/4 cup reduced fat mayonnaise

1 tablespoon white wine Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

11/2 teaspoons Old Bay (or other) seafood seasoning

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 1/2 cups crab meat (claw meat is fine)

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Spray-coat the bottom of a 9- x 12-inch baking dish. Arrange fish in dish. In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, Worcestershire, Old Bay, cayenne and lemon juice. Taste for seasonings. Gently fold in crab meat. Taste again.

Smooth crab mixture over fish. Bake, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, until fish tests done. Transfer to a warm serving platter. Makes 6 servings.

Salmon curry

If your family can appreciate some bolder flavor, pair fresh salmon with a homemade curry sauce, which also features tomatoes. Add basmati rice, of course. Prepare a cucumber and shredded carrot "salad" moistened with a bit of rice wine (sake) vinegar and dark sesame oil, and sprinkled with a few dried, hot red pepper flakes. And perhaps add some fresh melon and/or pineapple.

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

3/4 teaspoons each, sea salt, ground cumin, chili powder and brown sugar

1 1/2 pounds skinless salmon fillet

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

8 cups finely chopped Roma tomatoes (no need to peel or de-seed)

1 tablespoon chopped, fresh cilantro

4 cups cooked basmati rice

Fresh cilantro leaves, garnish

In a small bowl, combine turmeric, vinegar, salt, cumin, chili powder and brown sugar and mash with a fork to form a paste.

In a large, non-stick skillet, over medium-high, heat olive oil and saute onions and garlic until onion is opaque. Add tomatoes and the spice paste. Reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes, until thickened. Add chopped cilantro and cook 3 minutes longer. Remove from heat; keep warm.

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Spray-coat a rimmed baking sheet, arrange fish in pan and bake for about 10 minutes, until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Remove from oven, cool slightly, then break fish into chunks.

To serve, arrange about 3/4 cup of rice on each of 6 plates. Top each with about 2/3 cup of the tomato/curry mixture. Add some salmon to each plate. Sprinkle with cilantro leaves. Makes 6 servings (or more).

"Japanese" salmon

Because it is a hearty fish, we've chosen salmon again for this little whimsy, which uses those zippy wasabi-coated peas for a crunchy coating.

If you're up to it, serve with some rice noodles. And try this radicchio-snap pea mixture on the side: Saute/stir-fry 7 cups thinly sliced radicchio with 8 ounces sugar snap peas (trimmed) in a non-stick skillet with about 2 tablespoons olive oil until veggies are crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. Season to taste.

1 cup wasabi peas (about 6 ounces)

6 (8-ounce) salmon fillets (skin on), about 1 inch thick

5 teaspoons finely grated lime peel

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, for drizzling

Lime wedges, for serving

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a processor, coarsely grind wasabi peas. Spray-coat a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange salmon fillets, skin side down, on baking sheet. Press ground wasabi peas onto tops of fillets to adhere, trying to cover tops completely. Sprinkle grated lime peel over salmon. Drizzle the olive oil over all. Roast just until salmon is opaque in center, about 12 minutes. Makes 6 (or more) servings.

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