Many people find the idea of cooking fish intimidating, but it should be quick and easy. Here are our best test kitchen tips to make sure you get it right every time.
- Make sure the fish you’re buying is very fresh. It should be firm and shiny
and smell of the sea — there shouldn’t be a strong “fishy” odour.
- Good quality fresh fish should keep in your fridge for 2-3 days, but is always best
the day you buy it. If you’re not going to cook it on the day of purchase, we advise
popping it in your freezer, then thawing in the fridge before cooking.
- Make sure you season your fish with salt.
- Lemon juice and butter are two flavours that work with every type of fish.
- Fish can be baked, pan-fried, deep-fried, poached, steamed, grilled or barbecued.
- If you’re pan-frying fish, pat it dry and dredge it in seasoned flour first to
result in a nice, light crust.
- Always cook fish skin-side down first. A good rule of thumb is to leave the fish skin-side down for three-quarters of the cooking time, and only flip it over for a few minutes to finish.
- Baked or grilled fish doesn’t need to be turned at all.
- For baking, we recommend greasing your baking dish with oil or lining it with
parchment paper or foil — this will make clean-up much easier. Add some butter, lemon juice and/or a splash of wine and cover the dish with foil to keep your fish lovely and moist.
- If you’re poaching your fish, cook it very gently in milk or stock — and don’t discard
the cooking liquid afterwards! Use it to make a sauce; for example,
use poaching milk to make the béchamel for your fish pie.
- Fish cooks very quickly and over-cooks quite easily, so don’t be tempted
to keep it in longer than the recipe states. Estimate 7-10 minutes of cooking
time for every 2cm thickness.
- To check for doneness, use the tip of a sharp knife and cut through the thickest part
of the fillet. If the fish has been properly cooked, the meat will appear opaque
but will still be moist, and will be firm and beginning to separate or “flake”.
- The tails of fish have the fewest bones, so give these to children or the elderly.
- Tuna and swordfish are best seared very briefly on a hot pan and served pink on the inside.