One of our favorite things about our monthly membership is the opportunity it gives people to regularly demystify, elevate, refine and experiment with their at-home seafood-cooking home. So let us hit you with some of the go-to hacks we’ve come across that have made us feel like no-nonsense and masterful fish-cooking BOSSES.
Who likes a dried out piece of fish? No one, that’s who. So, some key tricks to help retain moisture in your fillets are always good to have up your sleeve. Poaching, for example, is an excellent cooking method that helps keep your fillets plump and juicy. Alternatively, if you’re broiling your fish in the oven, brushing it with a little seasoned mayonnaise is an optimal way to infuse it with flavor, while at once preventing it from drying out.
Pan-frying fillets is a no-fuss and delicious way to get a nice sear and crispy skin going on your fillet, but that high heat setting can also lead to messy (and sometimes painful!) oil splatters. Enter cinnamon, the super condiment that, believe it or not, keeps the oil in your skillet from going berserk. Just add a healthy pinch to your pan, and cook with the confidence that your oil won’t pop (nor will your fish end up tasting like apple pie).
There are few things as satisfying to me as perfectly crispy salmon skin, which I now know isn’t as unfathomable as The Da Vinci Code. You can achieve crispy skin every time if you start cooking your fillet flesh-side down first on high heat (for that lovely sear), and in about a minute and a half flip it with a fish spatula, cover the pan, turn the heat to medium-low and don’t touch it for about another 7-8 minutes.
If the scent of fish cooking in your kitchen isn’t your thing, there are methods you can use to help you quell any smell (though, keep in mind that high-quality fillets should never smell fishy). Perhaps try baking your fillets in parchment, which not only contains all the flavors inside your parcel, but also any unwanted aromas you might be trying to avoid. Poaching is a great option here, too, with the poaching liquid behaving as a kind of absorption agent. Grilling is the most obvious smell-mitigating method, because it literally keeps the whole production outside of your kitchen.
Keepin’ it Together
Unlike people, it’s okay for fish to be flakey — but less so when your fillets start falling apart in the pan or on the grill. For more delicate species like cod or rockfish, for example, one great way to avoid this is by dipping your fillet into a simple beaten egg soak right before pan-frying it. Or if grilling, just place slices of lemon, or any other citrus, right on the grill and lay the fish on top. You can also cook your fillets on the grill in handy little aluminum foil packets; just think of these tips as a heat-protecting, flavor boosting barriers.
Bring on the Brine
Brining fish not only helps with the above issue of keeping the flesh intact, but it also has the added benefits of enhancing flavor and squeezing out albumin, a protein in fish, which is the white stuff that you sometimes see as the fillet cooks.
So there you have it — our full-on hack attack. Hope it’s helpful!