Wishing for the perfect seared fish?
There is nothing quite so wonderful as a perfectly seared piece of fish: Crispy crust on one side, just-barely-done meat in the center. It is one of the great tastes of the world, and it is my go-to method for cooking most any fish.
I was primarily a seafood cook for 15 years before I ever touched a piece of wild game. Fishing is in my DNA, and I am proud to say my parents taught me well how to catch all sorts of sea creatures. I did not learn this technique from them, however. I learned how to sear a fish when I was a line cook years ago. Pan-searing is a classic restaurant method of cooking fish.
The technique works on any fillet or fish steak. I am using striped bass here, but most fish will do. The only fish that don’t respond well to searing are those with lots of bones, like shad or very small fish, like sardines. Even so, I’ve seared deboned sardines and it worked OK.
It is not hard to master this skill, but there are some tips and tricks you need to know.
A few things first. Most fish have very tasty skin if it is cooked properly. Some, like triggerfish or sturgeon or swordfish, have skin so thick or rubbery that it’s essentially leather. Others, like mackerel, have skin so thin you can’t get a decent crisp on it. But ye olde fish, such as bass, perch, salmon, flounder, snapper or rock cod, have excellent skin that crisps nicely. Be sure to scale the fish (or have your fishmonger do it), but leave the skin on the fillet.
Here’s how I sear fish: