Fish is Great.. Unless It's Overcooked

Cooked Salmon in Cast Iron Skillet

Step away from those fish sticks, they're not good food anyway.  Fresh fish is an entirely different animal from the breaded flavorless stuff in the freezer section.  Cooking fish is not difficult, is actually very simple, but it requires attention.

Fish, in general, needs to cook for ten minutes per inch of thickness. Add five minutes or so if it is paper, foil, or cooking in a sauce.   Fish can be boiled, broiled, fried, seared, grilled, steamed, poached, blackened, and cooked with acid.  Obviously, the health conscious should avoid fried foods, but all of the other methods render a delicious and healthy alternative.  Many different cultures have traditional, some even ancient, methods to preparing fish.  They offer tried-and-true seasoning and preparation methods for fish of all kinds, and are worth exploring.

Fish is wonderfully versatile, but similarly responds well to simple applications.  A simple fruit salsa, traditional sauce, or a spicy blackening rub can transform a relatively boring piece of mild fish into something spellbinding and delicious.  Placing a plain piece of fish into parchment paper with a few vegetables and herbs and baking it can result in beautifully textured food that melts on the tongue. 

The most common mistake when cooking fish, and the worst one, really, is overcooking the fish.  Fish, even “fat” fish like salmon, are lean.  Overcooking protein that is that lean leaves a tough and dry product.  Fish is cooked when it is no longer translucent, but is opaque or white, firm yet moist.   It should be just about to flake. This is easiest seen in a piece of salmon, as the opaque pink overtakes the translucent red flesh as it cooks. 

Leftover cooked fish can be used in many ways.  It makes lovely fish tacos, mayonnaise salads, green salads, and sandwiches.  It can be used to make dip for an appetizer or hors d'oevres.


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