Fish is delicious and when cooked in the right way becomes a favourite on the menu. We’ve sourced some secrets from top chefs for how to cook fish to perfection.
- Source the freshest fish available. The freshest fish will have a saltwater scent (briny but not fishy). The gills should be bright and moist and the meat firm and springy. Whole fresh fish should have tight, shiny scales and should not feel slippery or slimy. The eyes should be bright and clear.
- Don’t overcook your fish. It’s best to ensure that fish is at room temperature before cooking it at a high temperature. Get the pan really hot, add a small amount of butter or oil and salt and put the fish in it. Sear it quickly so it gets a little crust (about 2 minutes) and then immediately remove it from the heat, flip the fish over and leave it in the pan. The heat from the pan will spread throughout to cook the fish from the bottom up, while the side that was initially on the heat will also continue to cook the fish from the top down. This way you won’t have to worry about overcooking your fish.
- Season smartly. Remember to be conservative when it comes to seasoning your fish, especially if it’s really fresh. Most fish taste fantastic with just salt and pepper. Sprinkle both sides of the fillet with a pinch of table salt and white pepper. Black pepper detracts from the pure appearance of fresh fish.
- Cook with your fish as dry as possible. Dry off your fish before cooking, no matter what cooking method you may decide to use. This is especially important for frying or pan-frying. Excess moisture tends to cool down hot oil. Pat down fish fillets or steaks with a dry paper towel before cooking for best results.
- Bake healthy and delicious fish. It’s best to baste your fish with butter and lemon juice to prevent it from drying out. When baking your fish, place a few layers of foil under the fish for easy lifting. To test the whole fish, pierce it with a thin knife into the thickest part. The flesh should be opaque and flaky.
- Partially thaw your frozen fish. Rinse your frozen fish under cold water until it no longer has ice crystals. Then rub in the olive oil and bake it between 425ºC – 450 ºC for 3-5 minutes. Remove it from the oven and add some spices. Return it to the oven and continue to cook it for 8-15 minutes, until it’s baked and flaky all the way through.
Check for done-ness. There’s a few ways to check if your fish is cooked properly.
Cooking thermometer – internal temperature of 135ºC – 140ºC is ideal.
- Appearance – the thickest part of the meat will become opaque.
- Flaking – use a fork or knife to see if it flakes. Be careful with this though. If fish flakes too easily, it is overdone.