If anyone knows seafood it’s Reel Club‘s Executive Chef James Woodfork. We sat down with Chef Woodfork, who is serving up some of the freshest seafood for brunch, lunch and dinner, to get his five best tips on how to perfectly cook fish at home. But first, if you are looking for your next spot to dine out, we wanted to share five things you may not have known about this Oak Brook seafood spot.
- Brunch – Tired of the same old pancakes and eggs? Head to Reel Club every Sunday for their Champagne Brunch Buffet, featuring generous seafood and salad options, assorted sushi rolls, smoked fish, carved prime rib, omelette station and a selection of homemade desserts. Check out the menu here.
- Happy hour – Stop in Monday through Friday from 3pm-6pm in the lounge for sushi and appetizer specials to wind down after a long day.
- Popovers – These signature homemade cheddar cheese popovers are baked fresh daily and served complimentary in the restaurant to start off every meal. They’re naturally gluten-free, too.
- Signature dishes – What can you expect the moment you step into Reel Club? House specialty dishes that you’ll come back craving including Crunch Munchy Shrimp, Signature Seafood Salad, Grilled Mahi Tacos, Parm, Bacon Wrapped Parmesan Shrimp, Greek-Style Mixed Grill, Filet Mignon “Oscar Style” and a variety of homemade desserts from Salted Caramel Pie to Mounds Bar.
- Private parties – Host your next event in one of Reel Club’s six newly renovated dining rooms. Whether hosting a business luncheon for 15, a shower for 30, or a rehearsal dinner for 85, the private dining rooms are ideal for any celebration. Guests will enjoy a three-course plated menu to provide a sophisticated dining experience. From the room to the food, service to the celebration, Reel Club’s Parties & Special Events Manager will assist from beginning to end to ensure your event is perfect for you and your guests. All you have to do is contact them.
Dining in tonight? Executive Chef James Woodfork is sharing tips and tricks for re-creating Reel Club’s Greek-Style Fish at home. This dish can be made with almost any type of grilled or broiled fish.
Purchasing – A few things to be aware of when buying fish at a grocery store:
- First, the eyes on whole fish should be glossy; If they look dark it’s an indication of an old fish.
- Second, fish should not have a pungent strong smell as a strong odor indicates the fish is not fresh.
- Depending on the time of the year and on fishing stocks, prices may vary with some of the less available fish having a higher price.
Go Local – While salmon, cod, haddock, snapper, tilapia, halibut, seabass, trout, scallops and shrimp are the most common you will see in grocery stores, it’s always a good idea to check with your local, family-owned fish market for a wider variety of fish. These types are depleting rapidly, with fisherman forced to go to greater lengths to obtain them. Your local fish market will be able to provide you with information on what’s in season and available.
Seasoning and marinades – A common mistake is using too much marinade and spices, which will over power the flavor of the fish. Tailor your marinade to youer personal tastes by adding or substituting with your favorite herbs like basil, chervil, chives, cilantro, dill, fennel, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, and tarragon. Another easy prep idea is to use herb-oil marinade, accompanied by grilled or roasted vegetables. Check out Chef James’ favorite recipe here.
How to cook – Timing is essential, as overcooked fish will undoubtedly ruin your meal – while cooking methods may vary depending on the type of fish – the more you cook it, the more you will master it. You can use a different method every time for the same fish and have a difference in flavor profile. Steaming, pan frying, grilling, broiling, baking, or even in papillote are ways to go.
- In papillote is a method of cooking in which the fish is put in a folded pouch such as parchment paper or foil and then baked.
- When pan-frying or grilling at home, I place my corn oil, canola oil, and other cooking oils in labeled spray bottles. Using 2-3 spritzes of oil in a pan or on a grill is less calories and also less messy. Warning: your fish will start to fall apart when it becomes overcooked.
- When baking, if you overcook the fish it will become too dry – Chef suggests cooking at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
- If you are working with a more delicate piece of fish, steaming is the way to go.
Side dish ideas – Pair your fish with your favorite potatoe or veggie and voila, dinner is served! Some of my favorites are roasted potatoes, creamy polenta, oven roasted or grilled vegetables (fennel or asparagus), corn fritters, ratatouille, risotto or rice.