Fish and Shellfish

Learn How to Cook Perfect Fish with Karen on October 18

Sign up for my Saturday October 18th class and learn how to cook fish perfectly. If you overcook fish it is dry. If you undercook fish it is rubbery. You want it cooked through but not overcooked.

In this class you will learn not only all the tips about picking out fresh fish and all the right questions to ask but also how to judge when the fish is perfectly done. The Black Sea Bass with Sweet and Sour Onions is a delectable example of how to do it.

This Saturday class, starting at 10 a.m.and finishing at 2 p.m. we will also be making Sole Meunière… and achieving a crust that you thought could only be produced in a restaurant!

Sea Bass with Sweet and Sour Onions

Sea Bass with Sweet and Sour Onions


  • 1¼ pounds Sea Bass fillets, skin off (you will need one or two whole sea bass, head and tail intact, with a total weight of 2 1/2 pounds as you lose 50 or 60 percent when the fish is filleted)
  • 1 tablespoon flour, spread on a plate mixed with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/16 teaspoon black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, approximately
  • 3 cups onion sliced very thin
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley


  1. Rinse and dry fillets.
  2. Combine on a plate the flour, salt and pepper
  3. Dredge the fish on presentation side in the flour mixture. Tap off excess flour.
  4. Choose a stainless steel sauté pan large enough to accommodate all the fish in a single layer. Heat the pan for one minute over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté the onions over medium low heat until the onions have wilted. Turn up the heat to medium. Add another 1 tablespoon olive oil and continue cooking. Stir from time to time. Sauté until the onions become a rich golden brown. Push all the onions to the edge of the pan.
  5. Add 1 to 2 more tablespoons of olive oil to the sauté pan then place the fish fillets in pan, presentation side down. Raise the heat to medium high. Sauté fillets for 3 minutes and then turn them over. Pour the wine, vinegar, and sugar into pan over the onions. Turn the heat down. Continue cooking for approximately 2 minutes. Check to see if fish is done. Transfer the fish to a heated serving platter. Reduce drippings in pan if necessary. Arrange onions in-between fish. Pour any pan juices over fish. Then sprinkle with parsley. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil (also known as finishing oil).
  6. © Karen Lee 2014


If you forgot to ask fishmonger to remove the skin, slit the bass in three places (crescent shape slits) on the skin side in order to prevent the fish from curling up too much when it is turned.

Halibut Oreganata © Karen Lee 2013

In my Saturday April 20th cooking class we made:

Halibut Oreganata


Braised Fava Beans with Herbs

I added this dish to the menu at the last minute when I saw fresh organic Fava beans on the second floor of Fairway).

Sautéed Asparagus with Ramps

I found the ramps at Citeralla much to my surprise.  That saved me 3 hours round trip by not going to the Union Square Market.  Ramps really made the dish, they are so sweet.  I describe them as a cousin to leeks, only much more tender.  They are in season just 3 weeks out of the year and the time is now.

Halibut Oreganata

Wild caught from Canada and purchased from Pisacane (51st and First Avenue, 212-758-1525 ask for Paul) was glistening and fresh as can be.

Pasta with Arabiata Sauce

We used fresh and canned tomatoes.  Best tomatoes right now are Tasti Lee.  I buy them at Gourmet Garage. They are grown in Florida.  Let them ripen a day or two at room temperature.

Linzer Cookies


Halibut Oreganata © Karen Lee 2013

  • 1 pound of halibut, not more than one to 1¼ inches thick, skin off


  • 1½ Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. sliced garlic, green stem removed
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped shallots or cipollini or combination of both
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • A few grindings of black pepper and a pinch of cayenne
  • ¾ tsp. dried oregano (preferably wild-harvested)
  • 3 to 4 Tbsp. of bread crumbs (brioche roll, cubed then pulverized in Cuisinart)
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped parsley

Final Seasoning

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Garnish with snipped chives (optional)

Preheat oven to 425º.

Dip halibut in a bowl of cold water for one second then dry well with paper towels.  Place the fish in a metal roasting pan that has been rubbed with olive oil or in a skillet that just fits the size of the fish (or a little larger).

Place a small sauté pan over low heat for one minute.

Add the 1½ Tbsp. of olive oil and heat slightly.

Add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes on very low heat, never allowing the oil to get too hot and lose its green color.  Add the shallots and continue to sauté over low heat.  Take the pan off the heat if necessary to lower the heat.  While the shallots are sautéing add the salt, black pepper, cayenne and oregano.  Turn off the heat.  Add the bread crumbs, fresh thyme and fresh parsley. Using an icing spatula, spread the topping over the fish.  Roast fish for about 5 to 10 minutes. Time will vary depending on the thickness of the fish. If necessary run fish under the broiler for 30 seconds to 2 minutes to get the desired crust. Watch like a hawk. You are looking for brown and crusty, it is more about the color and crust than the timing.  Using two spatulas remove the fish from the pan and place on a serving platter.  Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the fish, and then squeeze a little lemon juice and a sprinkling of salt.  Garnish with optional chives.


If roasting more than 1 pound of fish, increase the topping accordingly and the cooking time…anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes roasting time depending on the thickness of the fish and the number of pounds.

You can tell when the halibut is done by inserting the point of the knife into the thickest part of the fish and the knife-point goes through easily.  If the fish stops the knife it is raw in the center.

Also you will see albumen (white liquid protein) form around the fish.

You can undercook the halibut slightly to allow for carry over cooking time.

Our Valentine’s class was so much fun

This year we made:

  • Hummus with Crudities
  • Scampi
  • Penne with Arrabbiata Sauce and Sautéed Prosciutto
  • Pan Roasted Filet Mignon with Fresh and Dried Herbs
  • Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake with Crème Chantilly

The orange chocolate chunk cake is Anna Pump’s recipe. She is a cook book author and the owner of Loaves and Fishes in Sagaponack. A wonderful store that sells takeout food.

Behind every good meal there is a good shopper

That’s me Karen Lee, I’m the shopper. I went to nine stores in New York City for this meal.

Pisacane for the Shrimp, ask for Paul, 212-758-1525 fresh Florida Shrimp, large, U-15’s (15 shrimp to the count.)

Gourmet Garage for the fresh Tomatoes, Tasti Lee, they come 2 or 3 in a box. I take them out of the box and put them on a flat surface with room to breath in a single layer. Let them ripen at room temperature for one to 3 days. They become redder and sweeter and make the most delicious red sauce. The fresh organic, rosemary and thyme.

Buon Italia in the Chelsea Market for the parmesan cheese and the Setaro pasta.

Setaro Pasta is the best dried pasta I have ever had. It is made in Naples, high in the mountains where water is considered the best in Italy.

Food Emporium for the sour cream. Daisy is the brand I like. No hormones and the taste is great.

Zabars for the  heavy cream. By Nature is the brand. It is organic. They also sell Hudson which is wonderful too.

Fairway, second floor, for organic vegetables, Bionaturae canned tomatoes and tomato paste in a jar. Organic, from Italy.

Whole Foods, for the organic butter, their brand, 365. Vital Brand organic eggs.

Spelt Bread made by Bread Alone.

Chipolini Onions.

Salumeria Rose for the Prosciutto de Parma. 24 month old is my favorite.

Citeralla for the Fillet Mignon. Always choose the most marbled meat. Tip – wipe it down with a damp paper towel. Put it on a plate with a loose cover of wax paper and let it air dry in the frig over night. I do this with all meat. The meat loses moisture and becomes more tender.

Enjoy some photos from our special night.

Joe and John with Karen
Joe and John with Karen

Speedy Dinner

This is a fast, simple and delicious way to prepare salmon. There are many choices when selecting salmon. My first choice is wild salmon from April to October. Other times I love Farm Raised King Salmon from the west coast. You can buy it at Pisacane 51st and First Ave. Ask for Paul. You need to order the King Salmon a few days in advance. 212-758-1525. It is raised in ocean water, which is constantly changing. The salmon are given fish  to eat and no dye. I also like organic salmon from Scotland. They are also  raised in ocean water, given fish to eat and no  dye as opposed to the regualar farmed raised salmon that are raised in crowded conditions, given pellets  to eat and dye. Salmon is delicious and good for heart. 2 fish meals a week are recommended.

Broiled Salmon
© Karen Lee 2012

1 pound of salmon fillet, skin off

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon cayenne mixed with ½ teaspoon salt
2 cloves of garlic, lightly crushed, cut in half and green stem removed and 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary (or fresh marjoram, thyme or tarragon)

At the end of cooking:
½ tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
½ tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt

Wash the salmon by dipping it in and out of a bowl of cold water once.

Dry well on paper towels.

Cut the salmon into 4 or 5 pieces so each piece is no more than ½ inch thick.

Place the salmon pieces on a plate and rub them down on both sides with the olive oil.  Season with the cayenne / salt mixture on both sides. Then put the garlic and the rosemary on top of the salmon.

Marinate the salmon for up to 2 hours in the refrigerator.  Shorter marinating is fine too.

Preheat the oven to broil.  If your oven has a high broil option use that.

Put a few drops of oil on the bottom of a small stainless steel skillet. Place the salmon in the   skillet.  Put the garlic and the rosemary on the bottom of the fish so it does not burn.

Broil the salmon on the oven rack closest to the flame (or red heating element if you have an electric oven).  If possible when broiling place an empty iron skillet upside down on the oven rack and then the pan with the salmon on top of it.  This will make the salmon closer to the flame and it will brown better and taste more like grilled salmon that is made on an outdoor grill.

Broil for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.  Turning fish is not necessary.  I like to serve the salmon a little underdone in the middle (medium).

Using a spatula remove the salmon from the pan and place it on a plate.

Drizzle it with a little extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and a sprinkling of salt.

Serve immediately but it is also good eaten at room temperature and even cold the next day if there is any left over.

Salmon has been given credit for lowering the cholesterol because of the omega 3 fatty acids.

Rosemary and sage are considered the 2 healthiest herbs, packed with antioxidants.

Karen Lee’s Marinade for Fish on Faith Middleton’s Food Schmooze

I recently enjoyed two interviews on the Faith Middleton show on NPR. “Karen Lee’s Marinade for Fish” first aired on June 15. The show’s recording is available here, as well as the recipe – wonderful on any kind of fish you like.

To Listen:

  • Click the title below to start the audio.
  • To find Karen’s segment in the audio clip, start the audio and then click on the gray bar until you find the spot labeled 13:00 minutes.
Audio: Food Schmooze June 15th 2011


Karen Lee’s Marinade for Fish on Faith Middleton’s Food Schmooze

Karen Lee’s Marinade for Fish on Faith Middleton’s Food Schmooze


  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • A few sprigs of fresh rosemary, tarragon or thyme


  1. Marinate no more than 2 hours.
  2. Baste the fish in the marinade a few times during those 2 hours.
  3. Heat a grill for 10 minutes if it is a gas grill. If it is a charcoal grill, then just let the fire burn down for 20 or so minutes.
  4. Crunch up a piece of paper towel and dip it in pure olive oil or peanut oil.
  5. Take a pair of tongs and go over the grill with the oil soaked paper towel.
  6. Put the fish on the grill immediately after and don’t move it for 3 – 5 minutes.
  7. Whatever it takes to establish a crust then flip it. Grill for another 30 seconds.
  8. Remove from grill with a wide spatula using a jiggling motion (so as not to leave any of the crust on the grill).
  9. Put on a plate and drizzle with olive oil, a little lemon juice and sprinkling of salt.

Nantucket Scallops

Here’s a re-post of a previous entry, with some more tips included.  Nantucket scallops are in season now and are fabulous… we made them in class last night and everyone said they were the best they ever had.  Recipe follows.

Nantucket Scallops

Nantucket Scallops


  • 3/4 pound Nantucket scallops
  • 1 teaspoon flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt mixed with 1/16 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 turns of the black pepper mill
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 lime
  • opt. garnish fresh thyme and lime slices


  1. Tips for success - dry scallops, don't over crowd in pan, hot pan
  2. Wash the scallops by submerging, lifting then placing in strainer to drain for 2 minutes. Flip over the strainer onto a sheet of paper towel to dry. Place the scallops on a plate. Mix together flour, salt, cayenne and black pepper. Sprinkle mixture over the scallops and toss to coat. Heat a 10-inch iron skillet over high heat for 2 minutes or until you see a little smoke. Add the oil and then swirl it around to coat the skillet. Add half the scallops and level them with a spatula into a single layer. Add half the butter and saute over high heat for 2 minutes.
  3. Then shake the pan to turn the scallops. it's ok if they do not all turn over. Saute another 30 to 60 seconds. Turn off the heat. Using a slotted spoon remove the scallops from the pan and place them on a serving dish and garnish with half slices of lime alternating with sprigs of fresh thyme. Repeat procedure for remaining scallops, adding a dash more oil to the skillet if necessary.
  4. Squeeze a little lime juice over the scallops. Serve as an appetizer or as a main course. Only draw back is that they are 30 dollars a pound but if you serve them as an appetizer 1 pound is enough for 5 to 6 people. Enjoy!
  5. NB: sautéing the scallops in batches give you a superior result - more brown and crispy.

Pan Roasted Salmon

Salmon is a really healthy choice because of that omega-3. It’s recommended that you eat salmon twice a week.

Print the Pan Roasted Salmon recipe.