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How to Cook Fish

Learning how to cook fish can be a particularly rewarding experience when you are preparing fresh fish that you just caught yourself. There are several tasty ways cook fish. This section provides an introduction to a few popular cooking methods and recipes.

Best Way to Cook Fish

You might be wondering how to poach fish, how long to bake fish, how to grill fish, how to fry fish, or what seasoning is good for fish -- these are among the most common questions that come up about cooking fish.

If you are just learning how to cook fish, you might be surprised at how simple and tasty fish recipes can be -- especially when you cook a fresh fish that you caught yourself. One helpful tip to remember about the best way to cook fish is to consider the species when deciding how to prepare it.

Cooking Methods for Fish

When considering how to cook fish, think about the cooking method that suits the fat-content. In other words, lean fish generally taste best when prepared using wet-cooking methods, such as poaching and steaming. While fish with a higher fat content will often offer the best flavor when prepared using dry-cooking methods, such as grilling or baking. Fish with a moderate fat content can be prepared either using either wet or dry methods.

How to Poach or Steam Fish

The simplest way to poach fish is to use water, then add some lemon juice, garlic, onions, good fish seasoning and spices. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, and cook the fish for 10 minutes or until the center of the fish looks opaque and will flake easily with a fork. Be sure to keep the liquid it at a simmer versus bringing to a boil.

When steaming whole fish, pour water into a stockpot, and then set a steamer on the rim of the stockpot. Place the fish in the steamer, cover, and steam for about 8 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Suggested types of fish that can be prepared by poaching or steaming:

How to Bake Fish

If you want to make oven baked fish, keep in mind that precise temperature and cooking time will depend on the thickness of fillets. Most fish is baked uncovered between 350-400°F for 15 to 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork. You can drizzle the fillets with a lemon-butter sauce or use some of the best herbs for fish (rosemary, oregano, basil) to give your recipe additional flavor.

Suggested fish that can be prepared by baking:

How to Grill Fish

Place fillets in a fish basket on the grill rack (you can add herbs for fish or other fish seasonings), placing the basket directly over the coals. Grill for 6 to 8 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook on the second side until the fish is opaque throughout, or about 3 to 8 minutes. Precise cook time will depend on the thickness of the fillets. Make a small cut in the thickest part of the fillet to check that the fish is cooked (opaque) all the way through.

Suggested fish that can be prepared by baking:

How to Fry Fish

When pan-frying fish, use a large heavy skillet and vegetable oil or shortening. Heat the oil or shortening over medium-high heat. Dip each fillet first into an egg mixture, coating each side. Next, place the fillet in cornmeal and press gently to help the mixture adhere to the fish. Turn each fillet over and repeat until the whole fillet is covered with cornmeal. Fry the fish until golden brown on one side (3 to 4 minutes), then repeat on the second side.

Suggested fish to prepare by pan-frying:

These suggested cooking methods and recipes are just a few of the many ways you can prepare your catches. As always, check the state fishing laws to make sure any fish you plan on bringing home to cook are within the regulations.