Tag Archives: olive oil

Grilled Fish 101: Two Recipes For The Price Of One!


Last weekend I had friends coming over for dinner and I wanted fresh fish. Having not had the opportunity to catch my own recently I did the next best thing and headed for the fish market. Pickings were a little slim at Restaurant Depot but I noticed some large Wahoo fillets. I asked the gentleman behind the counter if I could examine one and he gladly handed me a latex glove.

I laughed and told him that I am bit of a stickler about fish being fresh, then I poked the fillet, squeezed it little to make sure it sprung right back, I even gave it a little sniff. I told him that Wahoo was one of the best fish in the ocean but it absolutely must be fresh! Then I asked him to cut a 4 pound chunk of this perfect fish for me to take home. I smiled a little when as I walked away the guy behind me said “Yeah, I think I would like some of that Wahoo too!”

Freshness truly is half the battle when it comes to fish. The other half is cooking it right! The key with firm and lean fish is to never, ever overcook it. I always say to take the fish off the grill just before it’s cooked through and let it finish on the plate. Believe it or not, fish is so delicate that the heat from cooking will carry over and finish the fish on the plate while still leaving the flesh moist and tender.

To be sure about the doneness I don’t mind using a fork or a knife to check the progress but it’s not always necessary. With fish, especially fish steaks, you can watch the edges turn from translucent to opaque as the fish cooks. When grilling simply keep an eye on the side of the fish and turn it just as the doneness reaches the halfway point. Cook the other side for the same amount of time and viola, you are ready for the plate!

My friend Cyndi asked me for a recipe for this delicious fish and I am going to post not one but two because I couldn’t pick a favorite! Both recipes are exceedingly simple, grilled, and both are perfect for firm lean fish such as Wahoo, Swordfish, Mahi Mahi, or Halibut. The first recipe calls for Za’atar seasoning. This savory spice mix is available at most Middle Eastern, kosher, and halal markets as well as some finer grocery stores. It is one of my favorite spice blends!


Grilled Fish with Za’atar and Lemon

Fish steaks or fillets cut into serving portions
Za’atar Seasonings
Fresh lemon juice
Good Olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste


Preheat a charcoal, gas grill, or grill pan. Sprinkle fish generously on both sides with Za’atar seasonings, drizzle with lemon juice, and olive oil. When the grill is hot soak a paper towel with oil and using tongs, carefully rub to coat the grill with oil. Place the fish on the grill and cook two minutes, turn the fish clockwise 90 degrees and cook two more minutes or until the fish turns white “almost” half way through.


Turn the fish over and repeat removing the fish to a plate just before the fish cooks through to the center. (Use a fork to test if necessary and remove the fish from the grill just as the center turns opaque being careful not to overcook). Drizzle each serving with a little more olive oil and serve.

Grilled Fish with Compound Butter

Fish Steaks or Fillets, cut into serving portions
1 Stick (1/2 cup) Unsalted Butter, softened
Zest of ½ a Fresh Lemon
1 Large Clove of Garlic, finely minced
1 Tsp – Fresh Parsley, minced
½ tsp – Fresh Rosemary, minced
½ tsp – Fresh Oregano, minced
½ tsp – Dried Red Pepper, minced
¼ tsp – Fresh Black pepper, ground
¼ tsp – Kosher Salt
Good Olive Oil


Blend butter well with the herbs and spices and wrap it in plastic wrap forming the butter roughly back into a stick. Place the butter in the freezer for 30 minutes or until firm.


Preheat a charcoal, gas grill, or grill pan. Drizzle both sides of the fish with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. When the grill is hot soak a paper towel with oil and using tongs, carefully rub to coat the grill with oil. Place the fish on the grill and cook two minutes, turn the fish clockwise 90 degrees and cook two more minutes or until the fish turns white “almost” half way through. Turn the fish over and repeat removing the fish to a plate just before the fish cooks through to the center. (Use a fork to test if necessary and remove the fish from the grill just as the center turns opaque being careful not to overcook).


Immediately top each fish portion with a pat (about a tablespoon) of the compound butter so that the heat of the fish melts the butter creating a sauce.


By Request: Rosemary Grilled Shrimp with Prosciutto with Key Lime Cocktail Sauce

Shrimp (Edit 2)

Rosemary Grilled Shrimp with Prosciutto with Key Lime Cocktail Sauce

What? Shrimp again? Well, football season is now in full swing and I prepared these shrimp at our first Miami Dolphins tailgate party. They were such a hit that I had several requests for the recipe the very next day.

This recipe presents a perfect opportunity to mention “levels of flavor” once again as these shrimp benefit from the flavor boosts of the prosciutto and the rosemary. While they are very good without the prosciutto (and I have made them that way for friends that do not eat pork), the addition of the prosciutto, in all its salty, crispy, goodness, really does add another level of flavor that makes these shrimp a very special treat!

Add to that the fresh rosemary branches used as skewers and while you can certainly use bamboo or metal skewers, taking the extra step and using the rosemary adds a smoky, piney bite as the branches smolder on the grill and again another level of flavor that I think knocks these shrimp right over the top of the flavor scale.

As if those 2 levels of flavor were not enough, along comes the citric acidity of the lime juice and the kick of the horseradish in the Key Lime Cocktail Sauce to again take it to another level and a good dish suddenly becomes the hit of the party. Touchdown!

Key Lime Cocktail Sauce

1 – 12 Oz bottle Prepared Chili Sauce
2 Tbsp – Fresh or bottled Key Lime Juice (I used Nellie & Joe’s from Publix)
1 heaping tablespoon – Prepared horseradish
½ Tbsp – Fresh ground black pepper
1 pinch – Kosher salt

Combine all ingredients and stir to mix well, chill thoroughly before serving.

Rosemary Grilled Shrimp with Prosciutto

2 Lbs Fresh Shrimp – Peeled and deveined
½ Lb – Prosciutto, thin sliced and cut into ½ inch wide strips
Zest of 1 large (or 2 medium) fresh lemon, divided in half
2 cloves – Garlic, grated or minced very fine
2 Tbsp – Dry Sherry
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pinch – Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper

4 to 8 – Fresh Rosemary branches, leaves removed (with 2-3 inches of leaves remaining at the tip).

In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine half of the lemon zest with the next 2 ingredients, add a pinch of kosher salt and several good grinds of black pepper (about ½ tsp) then roughly ¼ cup of olive oil. Whisk until the olive oil begins to emulsify (or thicken). Gently toss the shrimp in this mixture until well coated, cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

While the grill is heating up, wrap each shrimp individually with a strip of the prosciutto. Using the rosemary branches as skewers, thread the shrimp evenly on 4 to 8 of the skewers (depending on the length of the branches). Drizzle the skewered shrimp with a little more olive oil, sprinkle them evenly with the remaining lemon zest and a few more grinds of black pepper.

Grilled directly over the flames, turning only once, until the prosciutto is crispy and the shrimp are browned and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side depending on how hot the grill is. Serve with Key Lime Cocktail sauce and…



Butter vs Olive Oil – Penne with Shrimp, Fresh Herbs and Lemon

Photo by KathyHuntPhoto.com

There was a time when most any meal I set out to cook began with a big glob of butter melting in a hot pan. Whether it was sautéing onions for a casserole, browning chicken for a braise, or scrambling an egg; it all started with butter. Then as I began reading about nutrition and becoming more conscious of my health, slowly but surely I transitioned to olive oil. Quietly and gradually, somewhere over the last few years, olive oil became my butter.

Through most of my years of cooking, it was not unusual for me to use a pound of butter per week, or at least every couple of weeks. Nowadays it is a rare purchase indeed and though I still keep (un-salted) butter around for a special treat in a pan-sauce or on my Sunday morning toast…I can honestly say the transition is complete. And why not?

Butter is a saturated fat too much of which can contribute to the build-up of blood cholesterol – Olive oil actually contains anti-oxidants and monounsaturated fats that have been proven to help lower cholesterol. Olive oil also contains vitamins E, K, and A, powerful anti-inflammatory properties and a host of other health benefits.

So why eat butter at all? Well, aside from that wonderful flavor there are a few good things about butter. For one, it does not contain any trans-fat, it also contains beneficial vitamins and minerals, can be high in Omega 3, and can even help your body fight off cancer cells. There is a great article at getmybodyback.com that discusses the details.

To my thinking these days, a little butter goes a long way…It’s a good fit in my “everything in moderation” theory that I mention so often. Butter is not inherently evil but it can easily be too much of a good thing. If you balance it out with a good bit of olive oil though, I think you can find a happy medium that will help you live a longer and more enjoyable life.

Recipe notes: This recipe uses olive oil as the base for the “sauce”. It is surprising in that it is not dripping in fat or greasy tasting. The idea is to coat the pasta rather than drenching it in a heavy sauce. The recipe comes together very quickly so I recommend having all of your ingredients ready to go by the time the pasta is almost ready to drain.

Penne with Shrimp, Fresh Herbs and Lemon

1 Lb – Med fresh shrimp, peeled & deveined
1/3 Cup – Extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp – Fresh garlic, minced
2 Sprigs – Fresh thyme
½ Tsp – Dried red pepper flakes
8 Oz – Dried 100% whole wheat penne
Juice of ½ Lemon
1 to 2 Tbsp – Fresh basil chiffonade
Fresh Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper

Add a tablespoon of kosher salt to a large pot of water over medium-high heat. When the water comes to a boil gently stir in the pasta. Continue stirring occasionally and cook 8 to 10 minutes or until the pasta has softened to your desired doneness.

When the pasta is roughly two minutes from being done, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, stir in the garlic, thyme, red pepper flakes and about ¼ teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper. Stir constantly for about 30 seconds then add the shrimp in a single layer. Shake the pan to “nestle” the ingredients.

Meanwhile, test the pasta for doneness, and drain into a colander reserving a little of the pasta water on the side.

After about 2 minutes, shake the pan again to loosen any shrimp that may be sticking and turn the shrimp over. Cook 2 minutes more on the second side then add the lemon juice and a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water. Cook another minute and remove the pan from the heat. To finish, stir in the pasta and the basil, gently tossing to combine.

Serve with fresh grated parmesan sprinkled over the pasta.