Fish is often overshadowed on menus by its landlocked counterparts. But seafood is one of the healthiest options out there. Studies have shown eating a diet that includes fatty fish like tuna and salmon can decrease your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies have revealed fish consumption has a significant positive effect to prevent death from congenital heart defects.
Even if you want to eat fresh fish, you probably get your seafood frozen from a nearby grocery. But nothing beats the flavors of freshly caught fish that you’ve prepared with your own hands. When you go on your first fishing trip, be sure you know how to properly clean and prepare the catch of the day before taking it to the kitchen.
Cleaning the Fish
Whether you get a whole fish, thanks to your trusty Shimano Stradic fishing equipment or from your last trip to the market, its important that you clean it properly. Aside from improving its flavor, cleaning can also reduce pollutants in the fish.
Here are the basic steps to cleaning fish.
Fish blood has a distinctly off-putting metallic taste. You need to use a sharp knife to cut through the fish’s gills on both sides. Submerge the fish in water and massage it from tail to head, to push out the blood. Reach into the fish’s gill cavity and pull them out. Chuck the gills into the trash.
Fish fins can be sharp enough to break skin. Use kitchen shears or a knife to prune the fins off the fish. Depending on the fish, it may skin or scales. If the fish has scales run the sharp edge of a knife against the grain of the scales, starting from the tail to the head. It should be like sharpening a pencil. Continue until you’ve scraped off all the tough scales.
- Removing Innards
Put the fish on its side on a sturdy surface. Use the sharp tip of the knife to cut the fish’s belly from its anus to the gills. Be careful not to cut too deeply or you’ll puncture the innards and spoil the flavor. Once the fish is open, pull out all organs, taking care not to burst them. Wash the inside of the fish to remove blood.
- Pre-cooking Preparation
Before cooking, decide what cuts you’d like from the fish. Steak cuts are perfect for large fish that you’d like to sear or pan fry. Fillets are all-purpose cuts that focus solely on the meat and is usually either in strips or spreads. Or you can leave the fish whole for baking or grilling. No matter what kind of cut you choose, put the fresh in a resealable bag or container and freeze immediately to kill parasites.
Cooking the Fish
Some species of fish are more suited for specific cooking methods. Others are more versatile and are receptive to multiple cooking styles. For example, undercooked salmon is eaten like rare steak. Meanwhile, raw salmon is enjoyed as sushi or sashimi.
The following cooking methods are the most appropriate for fish.
Perhaps the easiest method of cooking fish. Baking slowly cooks the fish and makes the flesh succulent and soft. Take a strip fillet of your cleaned fish and cover it with your favorite seasoning. Lemon, pepper and salt are the preferred seasoning for many fish. Put it in a baking dish covered with nonstick spray or on a piece of parchment paper and bake until done.
- Pan Fry
Pan frying involves putting a fillet or fish steak on a sizzling hot pan drizzled with oil. This cooking method doesn’t seal in moisture as previously thought, but it does create a deliciously crunchy exterior around a creamy interior. When pan frying fish, be careful with its fat deposits, which can burst unexpectedly.
Grilling is the go-to cooking method when you’re cooking fresh fish in the outdoors. It’s also ideal for cooking whole fish or steaks. Build a bed of coals and get them glowing with minimal smoking. Put a grill on top of the coals and you can just put your fish on top of the grill. You can either stuff the fish with onions, garlic or other flavor enhancers or wrap the fish in aluminum foil for a slower more tender meal. Grilling will give the fish a delicious, smoky and rustic flavor.
If you want a low-fat method for cooking your fish without additional oil, poaching is the method for you. In a pot water, dissolve some salt, drop in a few peppercorns, some herb sprigs and lemon slices. Bring it to a brisk boil and drop the fish strip or fillet in the water. Leave the fish inside for a few minutes until well-cooked. This process is notoriously bland, so you may want to whip up some savory dressing to drizzle on the finished product.
- Deep Fry
The most difficult cooking is deep frying, with the most famousrecipe calling for batter, because you have a lot of preparing to do. The fish can either filleted or cut into cubes. You can soak the fish fillets or cubes in beer to help them absorb flavor. Coat them with a mixture of flour and baking powder before dunking in a whisked egg. Deep fry in sizzling oil until golden brown. Naturally, this recipe has a high cholesterol content, but the crispiness of the fish is divine.
There’s as many recipes for cooking fish as there are fish in the sea. Decide on which flavor profile you want to soak your fish in and enjoy the delicious bounty of the sea.