Cooking Fresh Fish

Many people are afraid to cook fresh fish. They often rely on those breaded or battered fish sticks or pieces in the shape of a trapizoid. Guess what? Real fish is not square, stick-like or trapizoid shaped.


Chef Mark Palicki of Fortune Fish Co. dish of Cobia with Chanterelle Mushroom and Olive Clam Broth. Photo by Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times.

Chef Mark Palicki has some great advice for cooking fresh fish at home.  He says you should use paper towels to dry the fish before you do anything else.

“This allows the fish to brown while cooking; otherwise, the fish will steam in its own moisture.”

The thickness of the fish will determine how hot you pan needs to be and how long it needs to cook. Palicki says good fish doesn’t need breading or battering.

 “A fresh piece of fish just needs salt and a little pepper to enhance its elegant flavor.”

Many cultures believe fish tastes best when it is whole, with head, fins and bones intact. All these cooks do is gut and scale the fish.

All that’s left is cooking the fish before you enjoy it.

“You want the fish to get nice and brown on one side — three-quarters of the way cooked — and then flip it just to finish cooking on the other side. If the fish is very thin like flounder or sole, set the heat to high. For a thick piece of halibut, medium is about right, and for salmon, turn it up to medium-high. If the fish is extremely thick, it is probably best to brown the fish in a pan and finish cooking in a 400-degree oven.”

There’s no reason to have faux fish patties or sticks or funny-shaped fillets. You’ll find many options in the frozen seafood section of your grocery store.