When a tender white-fleshed fish such as flounder or sole is served stuffed with crab, it can come across as fussy and old-fashioned. Often, it arrives overcooked.
Here it is, reimagined: Start with a meatier fish, such as cod, halibut or grouper. Rub it with simple seasonings; saute, then finish it in a hot oven if the fillets are thick. A salad of crab, corn, scallions and pineapple spooned on top lends color, fresh flavors and lots of brightness.
Use the best crab you can find. You don't need much, but the better the crab, the better the dish will be. Also, it will be much easier to cook the fish if you buy pieces that are all the same thickness.
For the salad
5 ounces peeled, cored pineapple
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons mild olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar, or more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups cooked corn kernels, cooled
1/3 cup finely diced scallions, white and light-green parts (5 to 6 scallions)
4 ounces jumbo-lump or lump crabmeat, picked over to remove shell fragments and cartilage
For the cod
Pinch ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
Four 4-ounce skinless cod, halibut or grouper fillets, preferably 3/4 inch thick
1 tablespoon mild olive oil
For the salad: Cut half of the pineapple into 1/2-inch cubes, and finely chop the rest, reserving any juices.
Whisk together the finely chopped pineapple and juices, parsley, vinegar, oil and sugar in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the cubed pineapple, corn, scallions and crab, gently tossing to combine. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed. Let sit at room temperature while you prepare the fish.
For the cod: If the fish fillets are thicker than 3/4 inch, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the cayenne, salt, pepper and paprika in a small bowl. Use the mixture to season the fillets all over.
Heat the oil in a large, nonstick ovenproof skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the fish, skinned side up. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until lightly browned; turn over each piece and cook until lightly browned on the skinned side. If the fish pieces are still not cooked through, transfer to the oven and bake until done, which may take 2 to 6 minutes.
Divide the fillets among individual plates; top each fillet with the salad. Serve right away.
NUTRITION: Per serving: 280 calories, 27 g protein, 19 g carbohydrates, 11 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 70 mg cholesterol, 370 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 6 g sugar