curtis stone

Photo: Quentin Bacon

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Sea for Yourself
People always tell me they're intimidated by cooking seafood, and though I'm a chef, I understand where they're coming from. They worry that the fish will fall apart when they flip it or fill the house with an off-putting smell.

I grew up in Australia, where there's a fish-and-chips shop on every corner, so I've always loved to eat seafood. And I'm here to tell you that it's actually really easy to cook. It's just a question of timing. You can cook a piece of fish in less than ten minutes; the trick is to believe how fast it cooks and not do what many people do, which is think, Maybe I'll give it a little longer, just in case. Do that, and you'll be disappointed with the chewy, dry result.

To get you started, I've come up with three fish recipes that eliminate the guesswork. Start with my seared salmon—the fish people usually feel most comfortable with in the kitchen. All you do is cook the fillet 2 to 3 minutes on each side, whip up an easy green bean and radish salad and drizzle balsamic vinaigrette on everything. My Thai soup with cod and shrimp dumplings (which are more like fish meatballs, really) is aromatic and slightly spicy, and forgiving for the beginner: If it sits there an extra few minutes, it's fine, because the soup ensures that the cod and shrimp won't dry out. Also try my take on classic puttanesca—a Mediterranean tomato sauce in which capers and olives provide an added punch of flavor—by using it to braise mahimahi or bass. You make your sauce, pop in your fish, cover the pan for a few minutes, and come back to a beautiful dish. The heat of the sauce does the cooking for you.

There are so many reasons to eat fish. Seafood is a lean source of protein, full of omega-3s and low in fat. It's often pretty inexpensive. And most important, especially to someone like me who eats for a living, it's delicious once you know what to do with it. Luckily, now you do.

Next: 3 quick, delicious (beginner-friendly) fish recipes
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