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Fish: The Complete Guide to Buying and Cooking Paperback – January 26, 1999

4.6 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

From anchovy to wolffish, Mark Bittman, the executive editor of Cook's Illustrated magazine, presents fish and shellfish by name, offering discussions on preparation and presentation along with sumptuous recipes. Bittman proposes everything from traditional fare--Dungeness crab salad and marinated grilled salmon--to more complex dishes like curried mussels and raw sea bass salad. The more than 500 recipes are tried-and-true, and any cook with access to a decent fish market is advised to take full advantage of Bittman's expert and substantial overview. The book won the 1995 Julia Child Cookbook Award in the Single Subject Category. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Bittman organizes this more than ample book into short sections devoted to individual fish: technical information on how to handle a lobster, for instance, is combined with consumer buying tips, then followed by nine recipes. Usefully, the author, executive editor of Cook's Illustrated , holds his commentary down to a sober minimum--he doesn't often opt for chat or reader entertainment. Instead, unveiling the basics about 70 fish, he provides tried-and-true fare for the table--Dungeness crab salad, marinated grilled salmon--interspersed with more unusual offerings: raw sea bass salad; curried mussels; salmon scallops with garlic confit. Anyone with decent access to a fish market will appreciate (and come to rely on) this substantial overview. Photos not seen by PW . BOMC HomeStyle Book Club alternate; Food and Wine Books selection; first serial to Self magazine.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (January 12, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0028631528
  • ISBN-13: 978-0028631523
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on April 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
Of all the single topics on which cookbooks have been written, it seems to me that fish is the most common. It is certainly true if you look at my library, where there are seven (7) volumes devoted to fish in general, fish of a particular region, or even one family of fish such as the salmon or oysters. Not only is it a popular subject, but it is a popular subject for prominent male cookbook authors. In my library alone, there are volumes by James Beard, James Peterson, Alan Davidson, and the current volume by Mark Bittman. All of these authors are simply dripping with awards for cookbook writing.
There are at least two different approaches one can take to a single subject cookbook. James Peterson in his books on Fish, Sauces, and Vegetables tends to take a deep look, with more details about a fewer number of recipes. Mark Bittman, in this book, tends to take exactly the opposite approach. His main selling point is that he is giving us `more than 500 recipes for 70 kinds of fish and seafood'.
Fitting this approach, the book is laid out very much like an encyclopedia, with all articles on fish labeled by their common names, placed in alphabetical order. Each article begins with a taxonomic section giving both common and scientific names, common commercial forms, general description, substitutions, and reference to buying tips. The scientific name may not be very informative, as a common name such as shrimp may be applied to not only multiple species, but also multiple genera covering thousands of species. The general description is also a mixed bag in that it may be anything from physical description to geographical distribution to economic importance. The most important item in this header is the `For other recipes see:' entry.
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Format: Paperback
After 30-odd years of avoiding fish, I was finally coerced by my wife a year or so ago to try fish when she would order it at restaurants. I discovered that (a) my tastes have changed since I was 7 and (b) fish can be really good. Having avoided fish for so many years, though, I never learned to cook it. My first attempt was an orange roughy preparation the fishmonger recommended. It had to be the worst meal I have ever made (and I consider myself a fairly good cook)--my wife thought that I was never going to eat fish again!
I decided that, if I was going to try fish again at home, I was going to learn how to cook it the right way. After researching Amazon.com, I came up with Mark Bittman's _Fish_ as my first "textbook." What a great choice!
The first section is very helpful by going into great detail regarding purchasing, preparing and cooking fish. There is a description of each cooking method, how to do it and when (and on which fish) to use each method. The "Basics and Staples" chapter has some good recipes for sauces, stocks, etc. (I just made the "Spicy pepper sauce for fried fish" tonight and used it on a broiled monkfish--FANTASTIC!).
What really differentiates this book from others I have paged through is how he organizes the book with each fish having a chapter, a short description and recipes for that particular fish within the chapter and a cross reference for recipes associated with other fish that could be used with this fish. Mark imparts a wealth of knowledge for each fish in this book, and I appreciate his candor. Most recipes are simple and can be prepared quickly.
My only complaint, and a minor one at that, is that the book is 8 years old and some of the information (e.g. what fish is popular, fish prices, etc.) is a little dated.
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Format: Paperback
A plethora of useful info on the subject, well written. It begins with what all of chefs speak strongly on the subject, the ability to purchase fish with confidence. I especially enjoy his admittance that he too as many of us approach our fishmonger with the question, "what's fresh today?" to be answered, "everything!" He provides great insights and helps to aid in discussion with our fishmonger or even some tips on packaged fish. Further, he gives what I think is the best advice on how to store and freeze fish.
The recipes come with the caveat that there will be no "marinated shrimp wrapped in ham over a red-peppercorn passion-fruit sauce, etc." recipes. These recipes are just plain designed to bring the best out in the individual fish/seafood being served. One must not think than that it's just a question of bake, saute, fry. Here one will find technique and accompaniments targeted for each fish/seafood. One can easily experience after trying several that this guy has did his homework, combining elements which allow the fish at hand to truly shine forth with all its flavor. For example, one fish that my monger seems to have fresh in abundance, Porgy, Bittman offers in a chowder like version, "Cotriade: Fish and Potato Stew," comibing bacon, onion and thyme in a great combo. Consider also what he does with Sea Bass, "Crispy Sea Bass with Garlic-Ginger Sauce." This is a knockout dish, expertly offered crispy in shallow bath of vegetable oil, covered with sauce flavored marvelously with ginger to make the bass sing!
His shellfish recipes are just as delicious and rightly paired. Outstanding also is buying tips on each species in addition to possible fish substitutes for most recipes.
The only drawback for us in the Great Lakes is an absence of the great fish we have here, especially the Lake Whitefish,although there are recipes here which will work.
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