Real Good Baked Fish

by Joyce Kramer

It is really hard to beat the taste of fresh fish, ones caught just hours before they are eaten. Its eyes are bright and the gills are very red, still containing oxygen. The scales are bright and the flesh is firm. There is no unpleasant odor and this fish sinks when placed in cold water. Yes, this critter is fresh and now is ready to be cleaned and cooked.

Baking is a very popular way to prepare fish because it lends itself to most species. It also is not greasy, nor does it add nasty cholesterol. There are many ways to bake fish and you can accent it with many types of tasty side dishes too.

If you are preparing filets to cook in the oven, carefully clean and wipe them dry with a paper towel. This will enhance that fresh taste.

If your filets are medium size, place strips of bacon between them. This will help keep the filets moist. By basting a dry meat fish  every ten minutes, you are keeping in its moisture. However, you do not have to baste oily meated fish.

If you are adding stuffing in the fish, it is better to debone it.

Let’s start baking our fish with a basic recipe. Here is an easy, tasty introduction into the world of fish cooked in the oven.

The Georgia Volunteer Oven Baked Fish

Some say that baked fish started in Georgia. A wise Georgia grandma hosted a meal to some Georgia men coming home from the Civil War. She told them that if they caught the fish, she would cook them. They caught so many that all of her deep fry pots were full. She then pulled out a baking pan, coated the filets with some of her special seasonings and put them in her oven. The men devoured this new dish she served with a hearty helping of grits.

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon salt

Bread crumbs


Pepper and paprika

Clean and dry fish.

Dip filets in salted milk and drag through fine dry bread crumbs. Place in a pan which has been coated with olive oil. Brown the filets in 550 degree oven. Turn down quickly to 425 degrees. Now cook until flaky. Usually, this is about thirty to forty-five minutes depending on the size and thickness of the filet. Rule of thumb is ten minutes to the pound up to four pounds. After that, five minutes for each additional pound.

Uncle Marty’s Company Fish

He was a wonder in the kitchen and no one has taken his place since.  Here, the family shares one of his most popular recipes.

Cut the amount of the following that you want to put with your fish:

Tomato slices

Onions slices

Mushrooms pieces

Green or banana pepper slices

Shredded mozzarella cheese

Italian dressing

Pepper, garlic and seasoned salt to taste

Spray pan with Pam.  Arrange fish filets. Sprinkle your seasonings on to the filets. Now layer onion slices, tomato slices, pepper and mushrooms on to filets. Use a dash of Italian dressing on each piece. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until fish easily flakes.

Camp House Fish and Cheese Sauce

Born back in the woods in an old log cabin, this tasty dish is easier than it seems. Wait until you taste the cheese sauce!

1 pound of fish filets

1 tablespoon of butter

1  10 oz. package of frozen asparagus

2 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons of flour

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 cup milk

1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese

1/2 cup American cheese

1 cup of bread crumbs

2 tablespoons butter melted

Remove fins from fish. Clean fully, wash and pat dry with paper towels. Place in 10 x 6 baking dish. Brush with one tablespoon of melted butter. Season with salt and pepper. Bake in 450 degree oven until fish flakes easily.

Meanwhile, cook asparagus according to directions on package. Drain and set aside. In saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter, stir in flour, salt and dash of pepper. Add milk all at once. Cook and stir until bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in cheeses. Place asparagus on top of fish, pour cheese mixture over all.

Combine bread crumbs and butter. Sprinkle on top. Continue baking fish for about five more minutes to lightly brown cheese and crumb topping.

Lucy’s Smothered Fish Stuffing

Just as with poultry, a tasty stuffing can make the world of difference in a dish, turning it from the normal to the magnificent.  Next time you bake your fish, try a little stuffing too.

3 slices of stale bread

3 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

1 small egg

A little milk, if needed

Paprika, celery salt, and onion powder

Soak bread in cold water until soft, mash till smooth, add onion, parsley, a little milk and butter. Form into a firm ball. Stuff fish, then sew all openings to enclose the stuffing. If dry and crumbly stuffing is preferred, omit soaking bread. Capers and pickles may be used in place of the onion.

Baked fish tastes fantastic when accompanied by a well seasoned relish and a dash of a zesty sauce. A rule to go by for serving the right sauce for your specie is that a fat fish should have a sharp, acid sauce while a lean fish does better with a rich, smooth sauce.

However, some cooks prefer to go by color like the vibrant yellow of a Hollandaise sauce or a cheese sauce. Still others prefer a whiter, more pure dip like mayonnaise salad dressing or tartar sauce. You can also try the reds of a tomato sauce, or a chili sauce.

As a side dish, serve a tart relish or a well seasoned rich, Cole slaw. Pickled beets are also appetizing as are hard boiled or deviled eggs.

To add some pizzazz, you can try spiced cranberries, a cranberry mold, fried apple rings, glazed pineapple, spicy applesauce, beet relish, or cinnamon apples. Or just serve fruit sherbet, lemon ice, tart jelly and baked hominy.

Next time you are looking for a new way to prepare your bountiful fish catch, try the oven way.

Submitted cartoons and fish photos.

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