Oswald Rivera

Author, Warrior, and Teacher

Category: fish (page 3 of 6)


I belong to a wine club, Laithwaite’s Wines. The recipe given came about because of them. In my last order, I received a Pinot Noir (Purple Owl Pinot Noir 2017). This pinot has everything I like about this grape. It has a ripe berry aroma, and a taste of fresh raspberry, with a hint of cinnamon that lingers in a long, silky finish. A perfect Pinot Noir. More intriguing was the food pairing recommendation: rosemary-citrus salmon with asparagus. Normally, the pairing for salmon is full-bodied whites, such as a White Burgundy, or Voignier, White Rioja, or even an oak-aged Chardonnay.  In my experience there are some red wines that go well with fish such a lightly chilled Barbera, Valpolicella, or Beaujolais.   But a red Pinot Noir?

I decided to give it a try. Well, the salmon matched perfectly  with the wine. Now, if you don’t have access to the Purple Owl Pinot Noir, any good pinot will do, preferably from California.  But one from the Burgundy region, or Argentina, Chile, and even South Africa will do just as well. So, defy convention, have a red wine with fish for a change. And the recipe itself ain’t that bad.



1 to-2 pounds fish fillets, whole or 4 individual fillets
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons melted butter
3-4 fresh rosemary sprigs (about 3 tablespoons), chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried
Bunch (about 1 pound) green asparagus


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2.  Rinse fillet (or fillets) under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Place fillet on a large sheet of aluminum foil.
  3. In a small cup, combine lemon juice and butter. Pour and rub over fillets. Then sprinkle  with chopped rosemary. Place in oven and cook 15-20 minutes depending on size of fish. When it flakes easily with a fork, it’s done.
  4.  Meanwhile, rinse the asparagus and pat dry. Trim the ends of the asparagus. If the spears are thick,  trim them lightly with a vegetable peeler. Place asparagus in a the top part of a steamer pan, and steam for 5 to 10 minutes depending on thickness, or until tender. If you do not have a steamer, you can use a steamer basket inside a large pot.
  5.  Serve the salmon fillet (or fillets) garnished with the asparagus.
    Yield: 4 servings.



This is a relatively quick seafood dish that will wow your family or guests. Simple: fish fillets rolled up with spinach as a stuffing. The fish can be any firm-fleshed fish fillets, cod, haddock, perch, whiting, or whatever is available in the fish aisle. Still, I can hear you say, spinach? Ugh! Hey, you don’t have to be Popeye to like spinach. Here, the veritable green is seasoned to taste with salt, pepper, and garlic; and brushed with an lemon-butter sauce.  Believe me, you’re gonna love it.

The recipe can be done with fresh spinach, but I happened to have frozen organic spinach on hand and, you know what, it was easier in the preparation than the fresh stuff. You can still substitute fresh spinach if it’s on hand. We served the dish with a wild rice mix. But regular rice, or couscous, or quinoa, or even orzo pasta can work just as well.

So, whatcha waiting for? Go for it and amaze everyone at the table. You can lie and tell them it’s a complex, classical cuisine recipe that took hours to prepare just for them. Oh, yes, it goes perfect with a Riesling. I prefer the German or Alsatian Rieslings that still have a hint of sweetness. California and Australian Rieslings have a dryer flavor.



4 fresh fish fillets
2  10-ounce packages frozen leaf spinach
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup butter or margarine, softened
Juice of ½ a lemon


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Wash fillets under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
3. Cook frozen spinach, along with garlic (following package directions), drain, and chop coarsely. Spread fillets evenly with spinach, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roll up like jellyrolls and place, seam side down, in a grease shallow baking pan (I prefer cast-iron).
4. In a small bowl, mix butter and lemon juice, and brush heavily over fish. Place in oven and bake 20-25 minutes or until fish flakes easily. Serve fish rolls on a a bed of wild rice or favorite grain.
4 servings.





We had promised a close friend a salmon dinner. So, I thought, we could just bake or broil the salmon, in this case, fillets, in butter. But, why not give it that extra oomph with a ginger-mustard sauce? This is a recipe that I came across years ago, and I can’t remember where. But it does liven up the mild, nuanced flavor of salmon without overwhelming it.

In the recipe given, fish fillets are the normal ingredient. When I did it, I used two a whole, wild  sockeye salmon fillets that weighed about a one pound each. You can go that route, or for four servings, you can use four boneless salmon fillets It depends on what’s available in your store. The recipe is unique in that the salmon is not baked or broiled, but poached in water resplendent with dill and other herbs. Then you prepare a ginger/mustard sauce, and serve it with the salmon. Nothing could simpler, or more delicious.



4 boneless salmon fillets with skin (about 6 ounces each)
10 large sprigs fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried
1 bay leaf
6 whole cloves
8 whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons  white vinegar
Ginger/mustard sauce (see recipe below)


  1. Place salmon fillets in a saucepan with water to cover. Add dill, bay leaf, cloves, peppercorns, and vinegar. Bring water to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes. The center of the fillets can be underdone. Some like it this way. If not, then cook 2 minutes longer.
  2.  Drain and serve with the ginger-mustard sauce.
    Yield: 4 servings.



2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoon tarragon vinegar (or 2 tbsp, vinegar mixed with ¼ tsp. tarragon)
¼ cup diced canned pimentos
Ground black pepper to taste
½ cup olive oil


  1. In a bowl, mix mustard,  ginger, shallots, garlic, vinegar, pimentos and pepper.  Blend well with a wire whisk.
  2.  Add olive oil, whisking rapidly until well blended.
    Yield: ¾ cup




With this spell of hot weather, grilling  has come to the fore. Here’s a recipe that is not your usual grilling scene. No steak, no burgers, no hotdogs. Instead we have fish fillets.  For the recipe given we used perch fillets. But any firm-fleshed fillets can be used: haddock, turbot, cod, even red snapper fillets. But not fillet of sole. It’s too fragile for grilling. Also, for those who like a heartier dish, you can also use fish steaks with this recipe. Just be cognizant of the cooking time:. for fish steaks, grill 10 minutes per inch of thickness.

For richer flavor, the fish needs to be marinated in a mixture that combines all the ingredients given. The longer it marinates, the better the flavor. It could be one hour. But we’ve discovered that the best  is three hours or longer.

So, light up the grill, whether charcoal or gas, and enjoy.



2 pounds fish fillets
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Lemon wedges


  1. In a covered bowl or large zip-lock bag, combine all ingredients. Mix well. Add fish fillets to the marinade and refrigerate 3 hours. While in marinade, turn fillets several times.
  2. Preheat grill, and brush grill grate with salad oil.  Place fillets on grill, and cook 5-6 minutes, turning once. Fish is done when it it close to the point of flakiness. Remove from grill and serve with lemon wedges.
    Yield: 4-5 servings.




There are those occasions where you have to do with what’s in the fridge. So it happened that I had some leftover sour cream, and needed to utilize it before the thing expired. Same  for some fish fillets that we had purchased.

Now, the most common and quickest way to combine these ingredients, is to bake the fillets topped with sour cream. But I decided to try something different. Rather than having to use the oven, since it is summer, I decided on steaming the fish. And then serve it with the sour cream packed with fresh herbs. Summertime is when fresh herbs abound in the market. This made it a no-brainer  The herbs I used were scallions, chives, dill, parsley and basil. But you can use whatever fresh herbs are available in your grocer. By the way, if you don’t have or don’t like sour cream, then mayonnaise, that old reliable, can be substituted. If you’re health conscious, you can use yogurt (plain not flavored).

The fish can be served hot or, as I prefer, room temperature. I turn off the heat and let the fillets stand  in the cooking broth while preparing the sour cream with herbs. Then I drain the fish and serve it lukewarm. It goes better with the summer weather. And it goes without saying, any firm-fleshed white fillets go with this dish. I used haddock fillets; but turbot, cod, pollack, tilapia, bass, snapper, or even sole can be used.



For Fish Fillets:

2 pounds skinless, boneless fish fillets
8 whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 small onion, peeled and cut into thin rings
¼ cup white vinegar
½ teaspoon dried thyme
6 sprigs fresh parsley

For Sour Cream with Herbs:

1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon mustard (preferably imported)
Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil


  1. Place fillets in a layer in a skillet or pan. Add water to cover, peppercorns, bay leaf, onion, vinegar, thyme and parsley. Cover, bring to  a boil, and let simmer 5 minutes.
  2.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients for the herb sour cream. Blend well with a fork or hand beater.
  3.  Drain fish, place in a serving dish and serve with the herb sour cream.
    Yield: 4 servings.


Of all the seafood dishes out there, the easiest to prepare, to my mind, is poached fish fillets, be it cod, perch, turbot, or any firm fleshed fish. It even works with blue fish fillets. It is the easiest of all creations.

Most cooks I know do make this delicacy, but then they drench it in a rich sauce, be it Béarnaise sauce,  Hollandaise sauce or Bechamel. I prefer this dish with a simple lemon-butter sauce, with just a few key ingredients for flavor: peppercorns, garlic, shallots and parsley. Serve with some steamed veggies, it hits the spot. A good Chablis, Pinot Grigio, or Reisling to accompany it ( or a light red, if you desire), and you have a memorable repast—even for a weeknight dinner.



2 fish fillets (we use haddock), about  1 3/4 pounds
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 bay leaf
4-6 sprigs parsley, plus 2 tablespoons finely minced parsley
8 whole peppercorns
Salt to taste (optional)
2 whole cloves
4 tablespoons butter
1 garlic clove, finely minced
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
Juice of half a lemon
Freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. Cut fillets crosswise into  4 pieces of equal size.
2. Place fish fillets in one layer in skillet or fry pan. Add milk and water. The fish should be barely covered with the liquid. If necessary, add a little more water. Add bay leaf, parsley sprigs, peppercorns, salt and cloves.
3. Bring to a boil, cover, lower heat and simmer 5-7 minutes. Cooking time will depend on thickness of fish. Cook only until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
4. Heat one tablespoon of butter in a saucepan and add garlic and shallots. Cook briefly, stirring.
5. Remove 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid from the fish and add stir it into the saucepan.
6. Bring to a boil and add the lemon juice. Swirl in the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Remove from heat and add the minced parsley and pepper.
7. Drain the fish and serve hot with the melted lemon-butter sauce poured over the fillets.
Yield: 4 servings.










Back on the block, when I was growing up, cilantro was a sometimes exotic ingredient. None of our Anglo friends knew about it. The was the 60’s and 70’s, of course, before the American palette took off when James beard and Julia Child came on the scene. We knew of a few folks who used “culantro” or “Chinese parsley” as it was called. In Indian cuisine it was known, then and now,  as coriander. But the go-to herb was parsley, either regular or Italian.

A generation later, all that has changed. Cilantro can be found everywhere. No longer reserved for Asian markets. The local supermarket carries it. And recipes highlighting it abound. Still, in my circle at least, one either loves it or hates it. Admittedly, it has a flavor that takes time to appreciate. Thus, I always experiment so as to make it palatable for those who shun it.

Recently I experimented with it in terms of seafood. How about a dish where cilantro is the main ingredient, but does not overwhelm the seafood? My solution: give it an Oriental slant. In fact, going against tradition, this became our Christmas dinner.

Long before it hit our shores, cilantro was a mainstay in Eastern and Indian cooking. Following this precept, I married the herb with the most commonest of Asian ingredients: soy sauce and sesame oil. The result was fabulous. Even my wife, who is not a fan of cilantro, found the recipe heavenly. So, here it is, Fish Fillets with Cilantro. Be aware that in this effort, any white firm-fleshed fish can use used, cod, halibut, turbot, etc. I used perch fillets (hey, they were wild caught and on sale). The dish itself can be served with rice, or any preferred grain, even pasta. We serve it with tostones (fried green plantains). For a quick tostones recipe, check out my post from 10/16/16.



2 pounds fresh fish fillets (perch, turbot, cod, halibut, turbot, etc.)

For the Marinade:
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup sesame oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 bunch scallions, rinsed and chopped

For the Sauce:
4 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, washed and chopped


1. Rinse fillets under running water, and pat dry with paper towels. Place in an ovenproof dish ( I prefer cast-iron).
2. Combine all marinade ingredients in a cup or small bowl, and pour over fillets. Set aside and let it marinate for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile preheat oven to 375 degree F.
3. Place fillets in oven and bake for 1/2 hour or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Turn off heat but keep fish warm in the oven.
4. Combine all sauce ingredients in a small pan and bring to a boil. Remove fillets from oven, scatter chopped cilantro over fillets and pour sauce over it.
Yield: 4 servings.





Camarones con Ajo

In our family, back on the block, we called this recipe Camarones con Ajo, or Shrimp with Garlic. It was one of our beloved Uncle Phillip’s favorite dishes. Years later I discovered that this is also a popular Spanish tapas dish, which they call Gambas al Ajillo.  As most know by now, tapas, in Spanish cuisine, is defined as an appetizer or snack. Well, this may be the norm in all the bistros in Spain, but in our clan, we always served Camarones con Ajo as an entrée, usually with rice and, sometimes, pasta.

Puerto Ricans love seafood, especially shellfish. And in this vein, shrimp is king (at least it was in our family). We’re also enamored of garlic, lots of it in a dish. Recently I cooked up this dish again but, this time, I served it over Thai rice noodles. It was divine. Nothing could be easier. The hard part is peeling and devieining the shrimp. Just take your time and think of it as a labor of love because, believe me, the results will be worth the bother. Added Note: If you don’t like it spicy, omit the chili.



(Shrimp with Garlic)


1/4 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 pound shrimp (about 20 large shrimp), peeled and deveined
1  dried chili pepper (Chipotle, Mulato, Gaundilla, Ancho, or your favorite), seeded and chopped fine
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon brandy
Salt to taste


  1.  Heat olive oil in a medium pan or skillet over medium-high heat.
  2.  Add garlic and sauté until browned, about 2 minutes.
  3.  Add shrimp and chili pepper, and cook for 2 minutes. Turn the shrimp over and cook for another 2 minutes.
  4.  Pour in the brandy, and cook for another minute. Add salt, sprinkle with the parsley and serve.
    Yield: 4 or more servings.





Concha en Jerez

This is recipe that comes to us via Spain, once considered the mother country in Puerto Rico, when the Spaniards ran the show.  In Spain, Concha en Jerez, simply scallops in sherry, is normally served as part of a tapas ensemble. In my family, we served it as an entrée, usually over rice. We even made it into sandwiches for lunch. If you like scallops, this one is it.  Very easy to prepare. A famous Spanish dish with a hint of Nuyorican flavor.

(Scallops in Sherry)

1 quart scallops, quartered
1 cup dry sherry
1/2 cup olive oil
1 yellow pepper (pimento), if desired, can substitute red or green pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt to taste

1. Preheat oven broiler to high.
2. Place scallops in a shallow baking pan or dish (I prefer cast-iron)
2. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl, and pour over scallops. Stir to mix, and let stand 10-15 minutes
3. Broil, stirring occasionally, until scallop are lightly browned, 6-8 minutes. Serve over rice.
Yield: 4-6 servings.









Fish Fillets with Bread Crumbs

Breadcrumb crusted fish (or breaded fish) is a popular item these days. You can even find it in fast-food joints with such names as “Filet-O-Fish Sandwich” and “Fillet Fish Sandwich;” and sometimes a place may even own up by calling it a “Fried Fish Sandwich.” Usually served on a bun, these items are sheer killers in terms of health. They average from 350 to 480 calories, and 640 mg. of sodium or more. No matter how tasty, they are heart attacks on a plate.

Making this dish at home is much easier, healthier, and, yes, tastier. It’s an inexpensive way to satisfy your cravings while giving your arteries a break. In the recipe given you can use any firm fleshed fish fillet—cod, haddock, perch, turbot, etc. Wanna splurge, get some fillet of sole. You probably have all the ingredients already in your cupboard. In terms of breadcrumbs, want to be fancy about it—make your own, or use Japanese panko. Anyway, forget about the greasy spoon down the street. Stay home and cook something good.

The usual accompaniment to fish fillets is potatoes and/or greens. True to my Puerto Rican heritage, I serve them with tostones (deep fried plantains). For a good recipe on tostones check my post of 09/09/10. My website (www.oswaldrivera.com – 10/16/16) also offers both a recipe and video on how to prepare fried plantains. Making them ain’t that hard.


1/2 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup light or low-fat mayonnaise
Juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
1 1/4-2 pounds fish fillets

1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil. In another bowl, combine yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and oregano.
3. Place fish fillets on a greased baking pan (I prefer cast-iron). Top with yogurt-mayonnaise sauce, and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake fish until fillets are tender and breadcrumbs are golden, about 15 minutes.
    Yield: 4 servings.  
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