Fish Basics: The Beginner’s Guide to Cooking Fish

The best time to buy fresh seafood is on sale day; this means you get the freshest possible product with all its natural juices intact. However, as soon as you open the bag, the quality starts to drop off, so don’t expect too much from your first purchase!

When buying frozen seafood make sure it’s been defrosted properly. It needs to thaw completely before being used. This usually takes about 24 hours. Don’t rush things though – remember that once defrosted, any remaining ice crystals may cause the seafood to become mushy.

If you’re planning to grill some seafood, choose firm varieties like swordfish, halibut, cod, etc., rather than flaky ones such as scallops, squid, or calamari. They won’t hold together well on the barbecue.

Fish is one food that doesn’t need prepping beforehand. Simply place it onto a plate, cover loosely with cling film and leave until needed. Once ready, remove the clingfilm and pat dry using kitchen paper.

To keep fish moist, brush lightly over the top with oil or melted butter while cooking. Alternatively, sprinkle with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar towards the end of cooking.

Buy the right size of fish

If your recipe calls for one pound of fish, then use one pound of fish. Don’t go by what looks big on the plate or how much people think they want. Just make sure you measure correctly! You don’t need more than an inch thick for most recipes. So, if you get 1/2 lb., cut into 4 pieces instead of 2. This will give you enough to feed four people without having leftovers.

Choose firm white meat over dark meat

The darker the flesh, the higher fat content, which means less moisture. That makes it harder to cook evenly. But also, because the texture isn’t as smooth, it doesn’t hold together well after cooking either. White meat has very little fat but still holds its shape better during cooking. Plus, it tastes great too!

Season before cooking

Seasoning helps prevent fish from sticking to pans and grills. Salt brings out the natural flavors of fish while adding umami richness. Pepper adds heat. Lemon juice brightens things up. The citrus zest gives citrus notes. Garlic and ginger add depth. A pinch of sugar balances everything out. Try different combinations until you find something you love.

Know how long each step takes

For example, broiling may take longer than baking.

Grill first

Grilling gets rid of excess grease and dries out the surface, making it easier to sear later. Grill whole steaks or large cuts ahead of time. Then finish off on the stovetop once cooked through.

Let it rest

Letting food sit allows juices to redistribute throughout the dish. This lets the ingredients meld together creating a cohesive meal.

Serve hot

Serve immediately after removing from pan or oven. Heat toughens proteins causing them to break down. Also, serving cold causes ice crystals to form inside the protein fibers which creates tough textures.

Eat slowly

Eat with others who appreciate seafood. Share some wine or beer. Enjoy every bite.

Never hesitate to ask questions

Ask about preparation techniques and ingredient substitutions. We are happy to help!

So, now that you know these tricks, try our fried tilapia recipes today. They work perfectly for grilled, baked, sauteed, fried…you name it!

And remember: Good fish starts with good ingredients. Find those near you using our store locator. Or shop online anytime by clicking here.