If you’ve decided to make your nutrition a priority, I’ll wager that eating fish has probably been suggested to you as a credible option to reach and maintain an optimal level of fitness and health. Being of half pacific islander descent, it’s in my DNA to absolutely adore seafood, and luckily I grew up eating fish on the regular. I’ve prepared and eaten it in every way possible: grilled, pan fried, battered, raw, broiled and baked. Just quietly, I think I’ve even eaten it microwaved.
The thing I’ve noticed about fish is that my clients (and people all over) will either love it or loathe it. But the ones that loathe it usually do not know how to cook it properly. If your fish comes out dry, chewy and smelling like something fishy, then read on! I’m about to teach you how to prepare and cook the perfect fish.
So how do you cook the perfect fish? Here are my top fish hacks on preparing and serving the fish dish of a lifetime.
- If you’re looking at preparing a whole fish, choose a fish that doesn’t smell like a fish. That might seem like a ridiculous statement, but consider this: A fish in water does not smell like a fish that’s been out of water. Because duh, it’s not dead carcass. So you’ll want to choose a fish that smells the least like your idea of a smelly fish. Essentially this means choosing a fish that smells the closest to what it would smell like when it was alive… salty, or slightly like the ocean.
- Choosing a fresh whole fish means looking for one with clear eyes, just like it would look swimming around in the ocean. If you get one with eyes that are kinda cloudy, I have a hunch that your chosen fishy smells fishy AF. Try again!
- Choose a fresh whole fish with no perforated skin. A fish with cuts or tears in it has a higher probability of being contaminated.
- Have a little pokey-poke around at each fish that you’re choosing from. Ideally, you’ll want to stay away from the slimy suckers or fish that have overly tender flesh. They are usually the guys that aren’t frozen anymore and are lying in a pile of water that was once frozen ice. Fresh fish have an element of firmness to it. So if your fish has been exposed for too long without adequate cooling, it will lose its elasticity and they’ll be a higher probability of food poisoning occurring.
- If given the option, choose a wild caught fish instead of a farm raised fish. Every single time. The differences between the two are best illustrated by putting a piece of wild caught salmon next to a farm raised piece. The color difference is mind blowing. Wild caught salmon is a vibrant, deep orange/red color. Farm raised is pale and often cloudy looking. So if you’ve got the choice, it’s a no brainer, folks.
How to Cook Fish
I’ve listed my top three methods on how I like to cook fish below. Important final note: regardless of your method of choice to cook, don’t forget the almighty lemon adds wonders to the flavor of any fish. Plus, slicing lemon and placing it on top of your salmon really solidifies to the world that your fitness a-hole game is serious AF. That you’re a health force to be reckoned with! I’m kidding about your fitness a-hole status, but you get my drift. Add lemon and don’t be shy about it!
If you want your fish to come out crispy when you’re grilling or having it pan-fried, the secret is to cut your fish up but keep the skin on. After you have scaled and cleaned your fish (or have had it cleaned and scaled at the fish market or store) you’ll want to completely dry off your fish. Paper towels work wonders!
After your fish is dry, season it with himalayan sea salt, pepper and your choice of other dry spices. Heat a little olive oil in your pan on a hot temperature. Then add your the fish in with the skin side on the bottom. Turn your fish once only, when it’s 3/4 done to finish off the other side. This is your failsafe way for crispy fish that’s thoroughly cooked, while being moist and flaky on the inside, yet crispy (but not burnt) on top. Delish!
This is one of my favorite ways to cook fish. It’s healthy, easy to prepare, and the result is a smoky, BBQ flavor. Whether you are cooking a whole fish or have cut your fish into serving pieces, I’d advise marinating the fish from 30 min to 2 hours beforehand. Marinating in lemon, chives, parsley, (and basil too if you like your fish with a little extra spice in it) before throwing it on the BBQ is a great method for grilling, especially for those of you who are on a calorie conscious plan. Be sure to brush your fish with oil if you are placing it directly on the BBQ without foil. This helps to minimize burning your fish and your neighbors will not need to call the fire brigade because of all of the smoke!
When in doubt, just throw it in the oven, I say! Most of my cooking adventures began with the oven and baking fish is an easy way prepare it. You can bake your fish in your desired marinade and juices, but if you’re like me and always rushing to prep – I marinate mine in foil from 30 minutes to 2 hours (just like I am going to grill it.) When I’m ready to cook, I heat my oven to 180C/350F. Then I place the entire fish/cutlets with the foil into the oven. Depending on the type of fish, it should be done in about 15 – 25 minutes. As a general rule of thumb, your fish is considered cooked when it flakes away if you prod it with a fork in the middle of the cutlet or fish.
Do you have another way to cook fish, or have you had an adventure while cooking it? I’d love to hear about it. Comment below or find me on Twitter: @eddsthetics
Edwina Cheer is a Celebrity Sports Nutritionist and the author of The Mind and Body Diet Book.
Get Your free Mind and Body Diet Snackbook here.