When deciding on a method in which to cook and prepare your fish, it is always advisable to think about the type of fish, the texture and flavour and the fat content before opting for the most suitable method of cooking. Most varieties of fish can be cooked by using a number of different methods, however, unless you know the type of fish and its qualities, it may not always be easy to know which method to go for.
The most popular methods of cooking fish are baking, grilling, frying, steaming and poaching, although as we become more adventurous in the foods that we eat, influences from more exotic or foreign cuisines are beginning to make their way into our restaurants and homes, bringing with them new and innovative cooking methods and styles.
The most important thing to remember when cooking fish, whichever method you choose, is that the flesh of fish is extremely delicate and requires very little cooking time. It is easy to overcook fish, which would destroy some of the more subtle flavours and dry the flesh out at the same time.
Some chefs like to cook the fish until nearly done, remove the cooking vessel from the heat and allow the dish to stand for a few extra minutes. Although the fish will be removed from the heat source, it will still continue to cook for a short while, thus ending up with a perfectly cooked fish dish.
Note also that fish must not be subjected to very high temperatures for too long. It is always preferable to cook fish at a lower temperature whenever possible.
With cooking fish, the best way is often the simplest way, so that the flavour and texture are retained.
Therefore, you do not have to overcomplicate things when making fish for dinner. Usually a few herbs or spices are all that is required to enhance the flavour of the fish and end up with a delicious meal.
This is very handy for people who work long hours or who do not have a lot of time for cooking at home. Preparing fish is fast, simple, easy on the wallet and healthy.
In addition, with the huge variety of species available in our markets, coupled with the many ways in which to prepare the different types, there is no excuse for not eating fish several times a week.
When preparing oily fish such as tuna or salmon it is advisable to use cooking methods that involve no fat or as little as possible, as these types of fish already contain their own levels of fat. By frying tuna for example, the end result would be too fatty or greasy and rather unpleasant in taste.
For oily fish, use methods such as grilling, pan-frying or baking for optimum results.
With regards to leaner varieties of fish such as cod, plaice or John Dory, a method of cooking that retains or promotes moisture is ideal. If you prefer to bake these types of fish, it is best to do so in a sauce or liquid.
The most suitable cooking methods for types of fish with less fat content are poaching, steaming or baking in a sauce or liquid.
Another good piece of advice when preparing fish is to limit the amount of strong flavours and spices if cooking more delicate or milder types of fish. The richer the natural flavour of the fish, the stronger the flavour or spice can be used, as the natural taste of the fish will not disappear or become hidden.
Also consider that fish, which are delicate in texture will require a careful cooking technique that does not alter the fish structure in any way. For example, brill has a fine texture and a delicate flavour, so it is best to poach, steam, gently fry or bake this type of fish.
Once the fish has been cooked, it will turn opaque and flake apart or separate along its natural lines. To test if a fish is cooked, insert a thin knife or fork into the thickest part. The flesh should be almost opaque and no longer translucent and it should flake or fall apart when moved.