How to Make Fish More Appealing

My Mom, good cook though she was, was not an ace at making fish. Her broiled salmon was delicious, but beyond that, well, .... let's just say she didn't love fish, didn't want to experiment with it and so we didn't have a lot of fresh fish for dinner.

Same for my grandmother, except for once a summer when my father, uncles and assorted other men would go for their once a year fishing trip and come back with either mackerel or bluefish.

Now, everyone knows that if you come from a family that doesn't particularly love fish, mackerel and bluefish are not the ones you would pick for the once-in-a-while fish dinner. But that's what the men caught during the summer (when we would always be at my grandmother's place).

My grandma did her best with what -- and who -- she had to work with. I was -- and remain -- a devout fish lover, along with my cousin Leslie, but we were the only ones. 

For everyone else, grandma had to be creative.  Even as a child I realized that what she did to make the fish more palatable was to smother it with other ingredients that would not only distract from the strong flavor of those oily fish, but also make the dish more attractive so that we would all want to eat the dish placed in front of us.

It worked every summer. Everyone regarded that fish dinner as a winner.

You can make this recipe for the darker, oilier fish such as mackerel and bluefish, but it's also wonderful with plain old mild cod, which most people prefer.

Roasted Cod

  • 4 6-8 ounce chunks of fresh cod
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 4 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 12 pitted olives (green or black), cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup matzo meal or bread crumbs


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the fish in a lightly oiled casserole dish. Pour the vegetable oil over the fish chunks and rub to spread the oil on the top surface of each chunk. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Scatter the garlic and shallot on top. Scatter the plum tomatoes and olives on top, then sprinkle with parsley and dill. Finally, scatter the matzo meal or bread crumbs on top. Roast for 12-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, or until the fish is cooked through.

Makes 4 servings