Chef Eric Ripert's 10 ways to make a 5-dollar filet, gourmet-style

Chef Eric Ripert knows more than a thing or two about fish. He's only considered to be the best seafood chef in the world. It sounds extreme, I know, but I'm not exaggerating, he's that good. When he's not appearing on Top Chef or promoting his new book, "On the Line," (which I can't seem to put down) he's in his kitchen at Le Bernardin, one of the most highly-acclaimed restaurants in the world. Now you can make your fish fabulous with Chef Ripert's top tips for turning out a gourmet filet.

According to Chef Ripert, there are 3 things you should smell, feel, and look for when shopping for fish:

1. If the fish is whole, ask if you can smell the belly of the fish. Fish should never smell fishy.

2. When you touch the flesh of the fish with your finger, it should spring back easily.

3. For a whole fish, the gills should be bright red and the eyes should be very bright. For fillets, the flesh should be translucent. If the fish is opaque, it has been on ice for too long and the flavors are gone and if white-fleshed fish looks yellowish, don't buy it.

In order to turn a simple piece of fish into an award-winning dish, Ripert says, "Fish is not boring, but it has a very subtle flavor. In general, by bringing contrast into your cooking, you can make your filet exciting." And here's how he does it:

1.Use acidity (from citrus or vinegar) in small quantities to elevate the flavor of the fish.

2. Spices like tandoori, herbes de provence, paprika and curry to bring exoticism to the fish.

3. Herbs like basil, tarragon, and mint bring freshness to fish and parsley is a great secret if you want to prevent having garlic breath.

4. Season the fish properly, with salt and pepper on both sides.

5. If you make a simple mustard vinaigrette (recipe below), it will lift the spirit of any fish.

6. Most important: make sure you don't over cook your fish! You can determine the doneness of your fish by using a thin metal skewer which you insert into the fish. Upon removing the skewer, it should be at body temperature, or slightly warmer when you touch it to the top of your hand.

7. Build a relationship with your fishmonger, this is very important as they will often give you the freshest fish every time.

Chef Eric Ripert's Mustard Vinaigrette

Makes 1 1/3 cups

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 pinches freshly ground white pepper
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon canola oil

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the mustard, salt, pepper and vinegars. Whisking constantly, very slowly drizzle in the olive oil and then the corn oil. Store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.