Easy Ways To Cook Fish

We’ve all heard about

the health benefits of fish: It’s chock-full of heart-healthy omega-3s and has been shown to help prevent breast cancer, arthritis, and even depression. But while it’s easy to order salmon or tuna steak in a restaurant, it’s another matter to pick the freshest catch at the market and cook it at home. If you want to become a seafood pro, start with these simple tips.

Check the freshness

Many people say they avoid cooking fish because it smells “fishy.” But truly fresh seafood smells only of seawater, if anything, so if you detect an odor at the store, don’t buy the fish. Other clues to freshness include bright, shiny skin and firm flesh with no discoloration. (Poke it with your finger; if it springs back, it’s okay.) Fish deteriorates much faster than meat does, so cook it the day you buy it. You can also freeze it if it hasn’t been previously frozen; ask at the store

Use canned fish creatively

It’s my top choice when I’m craving seafood and nothing looks good at the market. Try this quick dinner: Flake the contents of a 6-ounce can of tuna over hot spaghetti that’s been lightly dressed with extra-virgin olive oil. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the dish and sprinkle it with chopped olives and/or capers, flat-leaf parsley, and scallions. Toss and serve.

Make a healthy fish sandwich

Forget those fried fillets at fast-food restaurants. Coat a thinner fish, like fillet of sole, in bread crumbs. Brown it in a pan with a little olive oil for one to two minutes per side. Then slice a 6-inch sourdough baguette in half, add deli coleslaw and sliced tomato on one side, and top with the sautéed fillet.

Don’t overcook

A common complaint about fish is that it comes out too dry, but that’s easily avoided. Most people don’t realize fish cooks much faster than chicken or beef, all you need is 10 minutes, maximum, for every inch of thickness.

Turn to frozen

Keep a bag of extra-large shrimp (16 to 20 a pound) in the freezer for a fast meal. Opt for “easy peel” over peeled; they’re deveined, but the shell preserves the flavor: When ready to use, defrost in cold water, peel, and marinate in olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook briefly in a skillet until they’re opaque. Toss with lime juice; serve over rice or salad greens.


Fish can be a little flaky, so you need a special spatula to ensure it stays in one piece as you flip it on the grill or stove top. I like this large Cooks’ Flexi spatula from Kuhn Rikon. It’s thin and delicate enough for even the most fragile fillets.


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