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7 Easy Ways to Cook Fish

Fish is plate-ready when the color turns from translucent to opaque.

Fish is done when the color turns from translucent to opaque (white) or has reached 140 to 145 degrees F internal temperature. Resist the temptation to overcook fish until it flakes, which indicates the fish is becoming dry.

If you buy fresh seafood, use it the same day or freeze within two days. If frozen, thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Rinse in cold water, drain, and pat dry.

 

1. Bake

  • Heat oven to 450 degrees F.
  • Spray a baking sheet or shallow baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Place fish on baking sheet in a single layer, season as desired.
  • Bake uncovered, 10 minutes per inch of thickness or until fish is done.

 

2. Sauté or pan fry
This technique results in food that's crisply tender. Seafood best suited to this technique includes fish fillets, shrimp, bay scallops, and slipper tails. Firm fish, such as shark, may also be cut into strips and stir fried.

  • Heat 1/4-inch oil or butter in a nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
  • Fish may be dipped in milk or beaten egg and then breaded.
  • Cook fish 4 to 5 minutes per side (per inch of thickness) or until done.

 

3. Pan broil
Thicker cuts, at least 1-inch thick, are best so fish doesn’t become too dry during broiling. 

  • Baste fish before and frequently during cooking.
  • Broil 3/4 to 1-inch thick fish 4 inches from heat source on an oiled broiler pan.
  • Broil fish about 8 minutes per inch of thickness with the oven door slightly ajar.
  • Do not turn fish less than 1-inch thick. The bottom and interior will cook as the top browns.
  • Broil thicker fish 5 to 6 inches from heat source and thinner fillets 2 inches from heat source.

 

4. Microwave
Almost any boneless fish fillet or steak is suitable for microwaving.

  • Spray a microwave-safe dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Cut fish in half and arrange in dish so thick center portions are to outside of dish. Place fish in a single layer with a small amount of liquid.
  • Cover with plastic wrap. Cut a few vent holes in the wrap.
  • Cook fish 3 minutes per pound on high power, turning fish once during cooking.
  • Salt after cooking.

 

5. Grill
Thicker cuts of steak fish grill more successfully than leaner fish. Use a clean, oiled, closely spaced grill grate. For smaller fish, a fish grill basket will provide the best results.

  • Heat charcoal 30 minutes or gas grill 10 minutes on high with lid closed. For indirect heat method, build fire or heat grill on one side only.
  • Brush grill grate generously with oil to prevent fish from sticking; grate should be 4 to 6 inches from heat source.
  • Place fish on grill rack in a single layer.
  • For direct heat method, cook fish 4 to 6 minutes per side (per inch of thickness) over medium to medium-high heat or until done.
  • For indirect heat method, place fish on grate over cool side of grill and cook 15 minutes with lid closed. Or sear fish on grate over heat, then move to cool side of grill to finish cooking.

 

For grill temperature, place a grill surface thermometer on grate or use the hand-count method to determine temperature: Hold the palm of your hand just above grate at cooking height. If heat causes you to pull away in 3 seconds, heat is medium-high (425 degrees F grill surface temperature); if heat causes you to pull away at 4 seconds, heat is medium (375 degrees F).

 

6. Poach
Almost any fish may be gently cooked in heated liquid, such as wine, water, fish stock, or milk.

  • Pour just enough liquid to cover the fish.
  • Cover the pan tightly and cook fillets just below the boiling point.
  • Cook fillets 8 to 10 minutes and whole fish 15 to 20 minutes.
  • The poaching liquid may be used as the base for a sauce.

 

7. Deep fry
Fish 1/2-inch thick is ideal for this method.

  • Heat enough vegetable or canola oil to 350 to 375 degrees F to allow the fish to float once it's done.
  • Cut thicker fish into smaller chunks so fish will cook in the time it takes to brown.
  • Sprinkle fillets lightly with flour. Dip in beaten egg. Coat with your favorite breading.
  • Cook 3 to 5 minutes until lightly browned.
  • Make sure pieces do not touch while frying. This could create steam, which causes a "soggy" coating.
  • Drain on paper towel before serving.

 

Monitor oil temperature with a candy thermometer to ensure proper cooking:

  • If oil is too cool during cooking, food will become soggy and greasy.
  • If oil is too hot during cooking, food will become too dark or burned on the outside before the inside reaches proper doneness.

 

See the label on your H-E-B seafood package for more detailed cooking instructions.


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