fish and sides on the table

This Chef Shares Her Secret To Perfectly Cooked Fish

Everyone should eat more fish. No, we’re not dietitians. We just think fish is delicious.

But, as much as we think it’s delicious, it’s not always the easiest to cook at home. The beautiful, flavorful crust you may get on a salmon filet at a restaurant gives way to a piece of fish that may lack flavor or may even be overcooked from trying to get that perfect crust at home. (Honestly, the struggle is real.)

So, either you accept you can only cook subpar fish dishes and move along, or you can ask a chef. We chose the later. Chef Jamie Gwen, who is also a sommelier and cookbook author, tells The Gourmet Insider that with a few simple steps and some patience, your at-home fish results can be even more delicious than going out.

“Fish cooked on top of the stove requires a smoking hot pan and patience. Fish in the oven requires high heat and little more than that. But all fish dishes are better using fresh, wild caught fish,” she says.

Now that you’ve started off on the right foot ingredients-wise, Gwen says that marinating is really unnecessary if you’re looking to really taste the freshness. However, she says, there are a few great options for enhancing the fish.

“Olive oil, salt and pepper are basic; lemon zest, Dijon mustard mixed with a bit of white wine and finely minced garlic work well; a miso marinade lends itself to richer, thick filets of fish if you want a flavor bomb,” she says.

As for cooking, Gwen says that there won’t be too many things to remember because you can cook most fish the same way, especially if the skin is on (which is preferred). To ensure a light, flaky fish Gwen says to start by lightly coat the base of a non-stick frying pan with olive oil then place the pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot, season the fillets with salt and pepper and place in the pan skin-side down. She suggests cooking for 3 to 4 minutes (“Be patient and turn on your hood or fan,” she says) until the skin is nicely golden and crisp. Finally, carefully turn the fillets over to cook for one minute.

“Don’t overcook your fish. It should be delicate and flaky when you serve it,” she says.

While a great fish can be achieved inside, Gwen says that she prefers another cooking method for steak-style fish, as it adds a bit more flavor depth to the finished product.

“For steaks, I prefer grilling, to add smoky flavor and to cook through the heartier portion,” she says.

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