As a rule of thumb, when pan frying, griddling, grilling, barbecuing, baking or roasting: allow 4-5 minutes cooking per side for a portion of fish 2cm thick and 8-10 minutes per side for 3cm thick. Add an extra 2-3 minutes per side if the fish is on the bone.
This is a great method for any whole pan-ready fish, any fillets, portions and also scallops.
Good for supreme portions, where searing the outside produces attractive bar-marks and leaves the centre of the portion more moist and succulent. Perfect for Tuna, which should always be served slightly rare in the centre. Good also for whole King Prawn,but not a suitable method for thin, flaky fillets.
Better suited to whole fish and flaky fillets. Particularly suitable for oily fish such as Mackerel and Herring and for halved Lobster.
Supremes of meaty game fish are perfect for marinating in citrus, salt, pepper and olive oil and then barbecuing. Whole portion-size fish such as Snapper, Sea Bass or Sea Bream are also great, as are whole King Prawn and Langoustine.
This method is good for fillets, goujons, very small round fish (eg Whitebait or Sprats) and Langoustine Tails (Scampi). Fish is either coated in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs, or dipped in a batter and then fried in hot oil (180 degrees centrigade) until golden. Lighter Tempura batters are also becoming popular.
A delicate method suitable for both whole fish and portions, which can be poached in various liquids, including lightly salted water, fish stock and wine. Smoked Haddock is especially good poached in milk. After poaching the liquors can be used as the base of a sauce.
A variation on poaching or deep frying is a technique known as mi-cuit, whre portions of oily fish ( ideally Salmon or Sea Trout ) are lightly salted, then immersed and semi-cooked in a flavoured Olive oil or duck fat at a constant 48 degrees centrigade. A 60g portion needs 11 minutes , at which point it will have a unique colour and texture. The oil must be discarded after cooking , which makes this a costly method, but the result is unique.
The healthiest way to cook fish and widely used in Thai cuisine. Simply place portions or whole fish in a steamer over 2-3 cm of boiling water. Whole fish can be stuffed with herbs and is also good with aromatic flavours aqdded baround the fish or marinated beforehand. Scallops are particularly good for steaming this way.
Another method is to fill the base of a large pan with seaweed, add enough water or wine to create steam (but not to cover the fish ), place portions or whole fish on top, cover with a lid and steam over a medium to high heat. Mussels and other molluscs are best steamed in this way but without the seaweed. Fish can also be steamed in a microwave , but the portions must be of even thickness.
Baking and Roasting
Since fish is easy to overcook, oven cooking should be used carefully. Whole fish and pavés are best for roasting, particularly oily species.
Here are four different methods for baking fish.
Baking in Salt
Whole fish can be placed on a layer of sea salt on a tray, with further sea salt coating the fish. This is sprayed with water , which creates a thick crust when cooked ( a 500g fish requires 25 minutes at 200 degrees centigrade ). Once cooked the crust is broken and gently pulled away from the fish without damaging the skin . The fish is then filleted and served. This technique brings out the flavour of the fish and is ideal for both Sea Bass and Sea Bream.
Fillets, portions and whole fish can be wrapped in foil with a little liquid to create steam, which cooks the fish.
The same principal as using foil but instead using greaseproof paper to create individual portion size 'parcels', which are served to the table , adding 'theatre' as the parcels are opened and steam bursts out.
Fillets or portions wrapped in pastry, usually with a sauce or filling. Can be individual parcels or made in a multi portion size such as with Koulibiac- the traditional Russian 'Salmon Wellington' made with rice , hard boiled eggs and mushrooms.
Shellfish such as lobster and crab can be boiled, but this method is not recommended for fish.
There is a wide range of classic accompaniments associated with fish and seafood cookery - for instance hollandaise, Béarnaise, tartare, parsley and Marie Rose sauces to name but a few.
You can find a wide range of sauces in our online store here
For more information , including downloadable seafood recipes visit: www.fishisthedish.co.uk
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