How to Choose and Cook Fish ?

How to Choose and Cook Fish ?


Baked fish is easy to cook and lends itself to a variety of flavorings. As fish is more delicate than meat, take special care not to over-cook baked fish or it will become hard and dry.

Choose: Medium-sized, whole fish with firm flesh (e.g. mullet, trout or herring). Fillets or cutlets of cod, halibut, haddock and similar-textured fish, are also good for baking.

Basic method: Season the fish with herbs, garlic, lemon juice or black pepper, according to your taste. Place in a lightly greased shallow casserole. If you like, add finely sliced onion, a bay leaf and herbs. Pour in about 125-250ml (4-8fl oz) of liquid (depending on the amount of fish); low-fat milk or a mixture or low-fat milk and water is ideal. Bake, covered, in the oven at 180C/ 350F/ gas 4 for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. Baste the fish a few times with the cooking liquid while it is cooking. The fish is done if it flakes easily when separated with a fork.

Note: A good way to keep baked fish moist is to wrap it in foil. Try fish in foil.

Shallow-Frying and Deep-Frying

This means cooking in hot oil or fast. Most foods will absorb a significant amount of oil when fried, so we do not recommend this cooking method for the serious athlete.

Grilling or Barbecuing

This is a dry-heat cooking method. Take special care not to over-cook grilled fish as it will become hard and dry. Frequent basting with marinade helps prevent this.

Choose: Small whole fish, such as sardine, whiting, or mackerel. Also excellent are fillets, cutlets or steaks of tuna, cod, plaice or sole.

Basic method: Using whole fish, score the skin diagonally across the sides in a few places. Season fish to taste - lemon juice, ginger, soy sauce, herbs and black pepper are good flavorings. If you like, brush with a marinade. Arrange fish 10-12cm (4-5 in) below the preheated grill or; if barbecuing, 30cm (12 in) above glowing coals. Grill fish slowly, turning once during cooking. Baste frequently with marinade or lemon juice.

Allow: 8-10 minutes for fish fillets, cutlets or kebabs; 10-15 minutes for small, whole fish; 30-35 minutes for whole large fish.


The fish is gently simmered in a little liquid in the oven or on the hob.

Choose: For a special event, poach a whole, medium-sized fish, such as sea trout or a small salmon. Fillets or cutlets, such as haddock, plaice or cod are also good choices.

Basic Method: place the fish in a shallow saucepan or casserole. Add sufficient cold liquid - water, tomato juice, fish stock or a mixture of milk and stock - to barely cover the fish. Season with black pepper and herbs such as thyme and oregano. If desired, add a bay leaf and sliced onion or celery to the poaching liquid. Cover and bring to a gentle simmer - do not boil.

Allow: 5-8 minutes for thin fillets, such as whiting; 10 minutes for thicker pieces; 30-35 minutes for whole fish. Remove cooked fish from the saucepan and use the cooking liquids as the basis for a sauce.


Fish cooked in the steam rising off boiling water.

Look for: Small, whole fish, such as trout. For fillets or cutlets, try plaice or sole.

Basic method: Season fish with lemon juice, herbs and black pepper. Fill the bottom half of a steamer with boiling water. Place the fish on a steamer tier. If you like, you can arrange thin rings of onion or finely chopped celery or carrot on top of the fish. Cover with a tight-fitting lid. Steam over rapidly boiling water for 10-15 minutes or until a fork easily flakes the fish - do not over cook.

Quick Tip: Buy fresh fish fillets in bulk from the market and freeze individual portions.

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