How to Cook Fish

In one of my previous posts, I discussed fish... which ones are safe to eat, the nutritional benefits, etc. But if you're anything like me, a crash course in *how-to* is in order. What the heck do you do with tilapia? What's the skinny (ha ha - pun intended!) on how to cook fish & seafood? I'm pretty clueless, and I'm guessing that someone else out there will find this info handy too. 

Just oh-so-coincidentally, the May/June issue of Weight Watchers magazine has just what I needed - instructions on how to buy, store, and cook fish. Serendipity at its best! Here's what they had to say.


  • Buy seafood from a reputable market manned by helpful, knowledgeable employees. 
  • Choose fresh fish with shiny scales; intact, clear eyes; and a fresh, mild aroma. For packaged fresh fish, check the "sell by" or "use by" date. 
  • Look for clams, oysters, and mussels that are tightly closed. (But if you tap a gaping shell and it closes, it will be safe to cook too.)
  • Consider frozen seafood: It's flash-frozen within hours of being caught, which locks in flavor and moisture. Thaw in the fridge. 
  • Refrigerate fish in its original packaging, and refrigerate clams, oysters, and mussels in bowl covered with a damp kitchen towel, 1-2 days.
  • Freeze seafood tightly wrapped in moisture-proof freezer paper or foil up to 4 months. Thaw in the fridge.
  • Cook whole fish, large fillets, or steaks until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of flesh reads 140 degrees.
  • Cook thin fish fillets until the flesh is almost fully opaque in center (to check, make small slit with a knife.) Set aside; let stand 2 minutes.
  • Discard any clams, oysters, or mussels that do not open after about 5 minutes of cooking. 
  • Cook shrimp or scallops until opaque and slightly firm.
And some tips & tricks (also from WW):
  • Buy 1/2 inch thick (or less) fish fillets or steaks, which can be cooked on just one side; you won't have to worry about flipping the fish in the pan.
  • Follow the 10-Minute Rule: Cook fish 10 minutes per inch. If you have a fish that needs to be turned, use a flexible metal spatula to gently flip it over halfway through the cooking time. 
  • Place a cup of vinegar beside you while you're cooking fish - the vinegar will absorb some of the seafood odors. Or, light a scented candle about 10 minutes before you start cooking.
  • Don't remove the head and tail before cooking - they help the fish stay moist. Instead, with a long, sharp knife, remove the head and tail from the cooked fish just before serving if desired.
  • Make several shallow cuts in the flesh before baking spice-rubbed or crumb-coated fish or before spraying it with olive oil nonstick spray. This will help the flavors permeate the flesh and keep it from drying out. 

I know, it's pretty basic stuff, but I found it useful. I'm really trying to incorporate more fish into our diets, but was a little intimidated. It's really not that big of a deal! I actually purchased Cod at the store tonight... exciting! The only fish I've made is Salmon, so we'll see how this goes....

OK, Ciao for now! ;-)


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Marilyn Monroe

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