To say I don't like fish is kind of an overstatement. It's more that I'm just insanely particular about the kind, origin, and preparation. I really only like a few varieties of fish; cod (baked or grilled), mahi-mahi (grilled only), salmon (wood smoked, please), lake perch and walleye (breaded and fried, please, with a side of buttered rye bread and sliced onion). That's it, though. And I'm even picky when it comes to those. I think the reason, primarily, is because we live in the middle - nowhere near an oceanic coast where the fish are fresh (with the exception of the fresh water variety I mention - kinda surrounded by some pretty Great lakes and a load of tributaries here). Nearly all the fish available in my area have been frozen at some point for an undetermined amount of time, and have needed to travel a ridiculously lengthy distance to get here. Some are even caught off North American shores, but then sent to China for processing (I mean...what?!). By the time that fish reaches my grocery store, it's just not fresh enough for me to even consider buying, and in some cases, the odor assaults right through the package. The fish available in "the middle" isn't even close to comparable to the fish caught and served fresh in the coastal areas.
Most of the salmon available here is farmed and treated with dyes (and is never going to grace my table), and the wild caught salmon, while quite delicious, is wildly priced for a dinner for six. Be wary of farmed salmon, especially considering our FDA's response to introducing genetically modified salmon into the mix. The whole situation with farmed salmon (and, in my opinion, farmed fish of any sort) is entirely too scary for me to even entertain the thought.
Every once in a while, though, I'm able to find some decent wild caught cod loins or mahi-mahi (which is to die for on the grill) that meet my expectations and doesn't deplete my wallet all at the very same time (and that is a pretty tall order).
When shopping for fish and your only source are the local grocery stores, be sure to read all of the information on the packaging. Put it back if it suggests countries or continents other than your own anywhere on the label. If you are buying it thawed from the seafood case (and it usually is thawed, especially if you are from "the middle"), be sure to ask the fellow behind the counter if it is farmed, dyed, previously frozen, country of origin, and how long it's been sitting in that case. If he doesn't know, choose something else that doesn't cost $8-$21 per lb for dinner; for that price, questions must be answered or there is no sale.
With regard to this recipe, I suggest cutting the tail ends from the fillets. Those ends tend to taste more "fishy" than the thicker parts. If you like that, don't bother cutting them off (like I said, I'm admittedly picky about fish). But if you don't want to bite into that, and you don't want to throw away the meat, cook it in a separate dish alongside this one and give it to the dogs or the cats - they love it. Also, I don't measure. This is seriously a sprinkle and cook sort of recipe. Fresh dill is ideal, but dried works well, too - just don't be shy with your sprinkling.
Lemon Dill Baked Cod
- 2 lbs cod, rinsed and patted dry
- 1 lemon
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- dried dill, or several sprigs fresh dill
- 3 Tbs butter, cut into small chunks
- 6-8 lemon wedges, for serving
Position oven rack to the second position. Preheat oven to 475 F. Line a 15x10 jelly roll pan with aluminum foil (optional).
Trim the thin tail ends of the cod. Cut the cod into equal size chunks (usually about 4" long), and place on the prepared sheet.
Cut the lemon into quarters. Squeeze the juice of all lemon chunks over the fish. Tuck the spent lemon wedges in between the fish pieces. Pluck off any seeds that land on the fish and discard them.
Sprinkle the cod generously with salt. Grind the pepper over the fish. Sprinkle generously with dried dill (or, if using fresh dill, tuck the sprigs around the fish).
Bake in preheated oven for about 10 minutes. Switch temperature control to Broil. Broil 1-2 minutes, or until fish just begins to sizzle and edges begin to brown and fish flakes easily with fork. Remove immediately.
Serve topped with pan juice and extra fresh lemon wedges.