Tips for Preparing Perfect Fish
Fish is a delicate meat, and, as such, should be treated with some care when preparing. In order to bring out the fresh, luscious flavors of a truly great fish, you won’t need a lot of ingredients or time. But you will need to pay some attention!
Fish shouldn’t be cooked for a long period of time and should be kept cold until the moment heat is applied. For a fillet or steak that is around an inch in thickness, cook in a skillet at medium heat for no more than a 3 – 5 minutes per side should be plenty. You can also get delicious results wrapping fish in a tinfoil or parchment paper packet and cooking in the oven at 375 degrees for no more than 20 – 30 minutes. The packet really seals in those delicious juices and steams your fish to a lovely moist flakiness that practically melts in the mouth. This is ideal with fish that has a tendency to break apart in a pan or that you want to steam with vegetables.
For a basic sautéed fish, you will want to begin with some kind of firm fillet not more than an inch thick. Halibut, trout, bass, swordfish and other similar fish should be fine. This kind of basic preparation would also work well for other kinds of seafood, provided they are somewhat firm. Simply season your fillets with a little butter, olive oil, salt, pepper and parsley. If you want to spice it up a little, you can add garlic, lemon slices, diced tomatoes, onions or even dill and a garnish of feta cheese. Try not to add them all at once, or you will end up with overly-seasoned fish.
Broiled fish is a very fast, delicious preparation method. Start by placing fish steaks in a broiler pan, and broil. You should only turn them once with a spatula, until the steaks are golden on the outside, about 4-6 minutes per side. Obviously, if your steaks are smaller you will have a shorter cooking time, and if they are longer, your time will increase. Fish can be broiled in an open packet topped with mild cheese in the last turning. Red wine vinegar brushed over the fish makes a very tasty addition, adding a nice tang. As a side dish, it is possible to broil vegetables with similar cooking times alongside your fish. I especially like to toss these in olive oil and Italian seasonings.
Salmon, tuna and swordfish make wonderful kabobs, simply cube the fish and skewer with tomatoes, peppers and onions. These can be prepared in a garlic marinade or even a light, smoky barbeque will add a delightful spark to this dish. Kids really enjoy eating fish this way as it becomes a finger food complete with dipping sauces to compliment. When cooking fish on the grill, always oil your grill first as there is nothing more disappointing than losing a prime bit of salmon through the grill. A hinged basket is a nice tool for grilling whole fish and firmer fillets.
If you find your fish bland and tasteless in the center, but tasty on the outside, where the majority of your seasoning will remain, try lightly scoring the outside of your fish. Keep a close eye on your fish, as any extra cutting will speed up the cooking process some. Another idea is to reserve some of your marinade, heat it separately and add as a garnish which will allow you (or your dining partners) to dip the center portions into the marinade. Do not use marinade the fish was left to sit in without cooking separately for several minutes in order to eliminate any bacteria that may have entered into the mix.
Fish is a very healthy, delicious and easy-to-prepare addition to any menu. Experiment a little and you will be richly rewarded with one of the many treasures from the sea!