Fish is one of the most difficult items to cook, even for professional chefs. One minute too long and it is overcooked or 30-seconds too soon and it is undercooked. Timing is everything, as well as watching the opacity of the fist as it cooks. A good way to cook fish evenly and without the use of much oil is to use a raclette; some of the options for this type of cooking are available at raclette.ca, where you can find sets for 4 – 8 people. No turning is involved with this equipment, so it makes cooking fish a little easier.
Pre-heat a Non-Stick Pan
It is best to use a non-stick pan that is either ceramic or Teflon to cook fish in. The pan should preheat until the oil is hot and just begins to bubble. When you lay the fish down, if it has skin, it is always skin side down first. You should hear a sizzle in the pan when the fish enters the oil. If you do not hear a sizzle, immediately and carefully remove the item from the pan and wait another couple of minutes.
Brush the Fish with Oil
If you opt not to use oil to preheat the pan, lightly brush the fish with canola oil. This will help prevent it from sticking. Again, it is important to make sure that the pan is hot and that the fish slides freely in the pan. You may need to add a minimal amount of olive oil just to help the fish move around. This will not necessarily make it greasy when it is meal time.
Do not Over Flip
Fish is finicky. The best way to flip it is to do so with a quick, sweeping motion. If you fidget with it too much, it will fall apart. This is one of the food items that you want to just leave alone and flip it only once. It takes some practice to learn how long to cook items on each side. As an example, a 2-inch thick square of halibut will need to be started on the stove top for 4 minutes per side, and finished for 6 minutes in a 450 degree oven to be thoroughly cooked.
Watch for Cracks in the Top
Some types of fish will crack on the top as it begins to overcook. It is best to keep an eye on the fish after you flip it to watch for the cracking process. The flesh of the fish will swell slightly, and at this point, it is ready to be removed from the pan. Some slight cracks are okay and are not always a sign of overcooking the fish. Keep each piece well lubricated to keep the item firm and free from cracks. Most fish, when it is in filet form, cooks only for 3 – 4 minutes per side to be cooked through. Thicker pieces are going to require more time.
Allow it to Rest for 5 Minutes before Serving
To prevent fish from falling apart and to allow it to finish cooking let it sit for 5 minutes. This is called carry-over cooking. The heat that the fish maintains will help it to finish cooking through.
There is no reason to be afraid to cook fish at home. A home cook that is able to pay attention to items as they cook, and follow recipe directions, will have perfectly cooked fish every time. Use a timer if you must to ensure that items are not left in a pan or in the oven too long. The key is to start with a hot pan and to listen for the sizzle.