AssociatedPress/Houghton Mifflin
"Fish Without a Doubt," was written by Rick Moonen and Roy Finamore.

"FISH WITHOUT A DOUBT," by Rick Moonen and Roy Finamore, Houghton Mifflin, 448 pages, $35

Cookbooks that dub themselves "essential" usually aren't.

But Rick Moonen and Roy Finamore's "Fish Without a Doubt" is a splendid exception. That's because the authors have managed to produce a cookbook that not only lives up to its title, but is written for the way real people cook.

The book's "Basics" section alone is worth the price. It offers cooking techniques, flavor pairings, how to battle the fishy smell in your kitchen and a brilliant photo-heavy section prepping each item for cooking (such as cleaning soft-shell crabs).

The rest of the book, which recently was named the first of Gourmet magazine's monthly Cook Book Club selections, is organized by cooking techniques and uses, such as with pasta and rice or in chowders.

Each recipe also suggests substitutes, making it easy for home cooks to deal with seasonal changes in availability. The recipe for grilled salmon, for example, suggests swordfish, mahi mahi and dorade as possible substitutes.