Searching for tips and ways to cook fish and seafood so it tastes YUMMY each and every time? You’ve reached the right place. I’m a seafood lover who is still trying to overcome a lifetime of eating overcooked, rubbery fish. In my quest to avoid this culinary crime, I’ve learned that the secret to cooking fish is all about timing and not to mention buying fresh seafood online.
Fish and seafood cook quickly, so it’s easy to overcook them. But when they’re cooked just right, they’re tender and moist with a delicate flavor. Follow these simple steps for perfectly cooked fish and seafood every time.
1. Always start with fresh seafood
This tip should go without saying, but it’s worth repeating: Fish tastes best when cooked right after it has been caught. That being said, freshly caught fish is often not feasible for most home cooks. If you can’t get your hands on fresh seafood, make sure the fish you’re buying is frozen and that you store it properly once you get home (the same goes for any other perishable food item). Here are some tips on getting fresh seafood in NYC.
2. Season the fish with salt before cooking
Fish is a delicate protein, so it’s best to season it as much as possible before cooking. Salt helps draw out moisture from the flesh of the fish so that when it cooks, it doesn’t end up watery or rubbery. Seasoning also helps bring out more flavor in the dish.
3. Poach It in Olive Oil
This technique is called en papillote (in parchment), which means “in paper” in French. The idea is to cook the food in its own steam, so it doesn’t dry out at all. It’s a technique that works with any food, but we’ll focus on fish here.
Start by selecting a fresh fish fillet or whole fish that has been scaled and gutted. Pat, it dries with paper towels, then place it on a sheet of parchment paper (or aluminum foil). Drizzle it with olive oil and add slices of lemon and chopped herbs if you’d like, then fold the paper over the fish and crimp the edges tightly closed so no steam escapes.
Place your parcel(s) in a baking dish and bake for about 15 minutes at 425°F until the fish is opaque when you cut into one of the packets.
Watch this video to understand more:
4. Pat fish dry before cooking
When you’re cooking fish or shellfish, it’s important to dry the exterior as much as possible. Not only will this help prevent splattering when you add it to the pan, but it will also create a better crust on the outside.
5. Use high heat
Some cooks are hesitant to use high heat when cooking delicate foods like fish, but we actually encourage it! Heat is what creates a browned surface on the fish (or meat) and adds flavor. When in doubt about the temperature of your pan or grill, test it by sprinkling water over the surface — if the water sizzles immediately and evaporates quickly, you’re good to go!
6. Cook Fish Whole or in Large Pieces
To avoid overcooking — which can make the flesh dry or tough — get into the habit of making large pieces of fish that are 2 inches or more in thickness (such as whole fillets or steaks). You can also cook the whole fish, which reduces the risk of drying out the delicate flesh.
7. Avoid Breading and Batters
Breading and battering are often used as a way to mask an inferior product. Unfortunately, these coatings also keep heat from penetrating into the flesh, so you end up with a soggy exterior and undercooked fish inside. This problem can be avoided by using fresh seafood that is at its peak of freshness.