Best way to cook
Nutritional value: High in protein, magnesium and potassium
You can choose to fry your fish as is or cover it in flour or breadcrumbs. Using the extra coating will give your fish more texture and body. If you’re going to dip it in flour, soak the fish in a bowl of milk for 3 to 5 minutes, before covering it in flour or breadcrumbs. This will help the coating stick to the fish.
Get your pan ready for frying by pouring a few tablespoons of vegetable oil into it. You can also use clarified butter which will taste great on the fish. Heat the pan until the oil slides around easily. You can splatter a few drops of water in the pan – if the water sizzles, it’s ready for your fish. Place the fish flesh side down in the pan – the side you’ll be presenting to your diner (the non-skin side).
Once your fish is in the pan, slide a spatula gently underneath to prevent it from sticking. Cook the fish for 3 to 4 minutes on one side and then flip it. Fish usually cooks for 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Use a wide spatula to prevent breaking the fish. Cook for another 3-4 minutes or until the flesh turns pearly white and flakes easily with a fork. Carefully lift it out of the pan and serve immediately.
Baking whole in foil
This has a similar effect to steaming, sealing moisture within the foil rather than letting it escape into the oven. This method ensures that your fish doesn’t dry out and helps to seal in the aroma and flavour.
Preheat the oven to 200°C and grease a large piece of foil with butter. Take your fish and season it with salt and pepper. Place the fish onto the foil, add some herbs and lemon juice, fold the sides and seal at the top. Place into a pre-heated oven and cook for a specified time until the flesh is white and firm. If you’re baking a whole fish in foil, ensure that the fish is properly cleaned, scaled and gutted before wrapping it in foil. Cooking a whole fish in foil will take much longer, perhaps around 40 – 50 minutes.
- 90 ml olive oil
- salt and coarsely ground black pepper
- 2 large whole fish, such as red roman or stumpnose
- 30 ml extra olive oil
- 1 whole garlic bulb, separated into cloves
- 300 g cherry tomatoes, rinsed
- 1 sprig fresh dill or fennel
- lemon quarters
- Preheat the oven to 220 ºC.
- Season the olive oil generously with salt and pepper and use to brush the fish (cleaned and gutted and head and tail reserved) inside and out.
- Pour the other quantity of olive oil into an oven pan, add the garlic and bake for 5 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and place the fish on top of the garlic in the pan.
- Roast for 10 minutes, then add the cherry tomatoes and roast for another 30 to 40 minutes or until the fish is just done. (Test by inserting a fork into the thickest part of the fish if the flesh comes loose easily from the bones the fish is done.)
- Arrange the fish on a large serving platter and surround with the roasted garlic cloves and cherry tomatoes.
- Finish with fresh sprigs of herbs and lemon quarters.
- Serve with freshly baked Italian bread spread with garlic paste squeezed from the roasted garlic cloves.
*Recipe provided courtesy of Cape Town Fishing