The Ideal Seafood Dishes For Beginner Cooks, According To Richard Blais

For an aspiring cook who feels less than confident about stepping into the kitchen, a fresh fillet of fish can be an intimidating ingredient to approach. But Chef Richard Blais, "Top Chef" champion and host of "Next Level Chef," wants to encourage those with culinary reservations to push past them. 

To start, look for mahi mahi when shopping at the market, Blais suggests. "I hate to say 'it's a good fish for people who haven't had seafood in a while,'" he told our Tasting Table team, but he admitted that the properties of this fish make it relatively forgiving and a flexible choice for nearly any kind of preparation. Its meat offers a firmer, denser texture that can be used to make fish tacos or served with grilled vegetables as a delicious side. Plus, mahi mahi keeps its natural moisture, he explained, and the meatier fish can hold its own when seasoned and spiced with wild abandon.

If you're not sold on the idea of trying to cook anything fishy on the stove, Blais provides shrimp as an alternative for hesitant chefs. Simply place shrimp in a pan with butter and garlic, sauté for several minutes, and you have yourself a dish that can be paired with rice or pasta for a satisfying dinner. 

Cooking fish with confidence

To get started with mahi mahi, choose your cooking method and preferred pairing of spices. Mahi mahi can be easily baked and matched with tropical ingredients for a meal that tastes fresh from the sea, and the fish's flakiness can be flavored with sweeter marinades and heavier sauces. Because mahi mahi offers a milder taste when compared to other types of fish, even those adverse to fishy dishes may find enjoyment in recipes prepared with mahi mahi.

Another simple way to prepare mahi mahi is on the grill, as the tougher fillets stay firm when placed over heat. Brush the fish with olive oil or butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and squeeze a dash of lemon on top to finish the recipe. Herbs like rosemary and basil can add depth of flavor, and for spicier kicks, a dusting of paprika or cayenne and drizzles of hot sauce can turn up the heat of your meal. We can see why Richard Blais recommends it for beginners — with mahi mahi unwrapped and washed, new chefs only need to summon a bit of courage and gumption to put together a recipe that earns rave reviews.