Here are a few tips to apply when cooking fish, knowledge is power………..
Crisp-fried fish and chips. Moist, flaky grilled salmon. Firm, tender broiled swordfish. Fish is highly versatile, filled with valuable Omega-3 oils and bursting with flavor. But are you aware that not all fish is suited for every cooking method? Your dish could easily be ruined by choosing a fish that is too dry or too moist for the recipe you want to prepare. Those pursuing their culinary training in cooking school can learn how to properly select fish. Now you can benefit from their knowledge.
Natural Moisture Plays A Big Role
For dry, high-heat methods of cooking, fish that contain a lot of moisture are a best fit. Cooking school graduates know grilling, broiling, roasting and baking can leave fish tough and rubbery. This is because the dry heat extracts moisture – giving nothing back. If you plan to use these cooking techniques, choose a fish with a high-moisture content. Swordfish, salmon, cod and halibut would all work well in these situations.
Sautéing, baking with a sauce, frying or steaming are other methods taught during culinary training for cooking fish. Students are instructed to select fish that are less moist for these techniques. The reason is two-fold. First, depending on the amount of water released from the fish during cooking, it may alter the flavor of sauces. Second, the moisture could turn batter or other coatings into mush.
Sautéing involves the use of oil or butter(clarified butter) This helps keep fish moist during cooking. Baking is usually done with a sauce. The sauce also would help retain the natural oils in a dryer fish. Steaming adds moisture rather than reducing it, and frying normally involves a batter or bread coating that locks in the natural oils and water. Cooking school instructors often suggest tilapia, catfish, haddock or orange roughy for these applications.
Firm or Delicate? Which Will Hold Up Best?
Another consideration when selecting fish for your recipe is firmness. For dishes where you want the fish to remain in its cut shape, a fish with firm flesh will be a best pick. Fish that don’t break apart when handled during cooking (during turning, etc.) will make the best presentation and be easier to eat. Grouper, swordfish, salmon, cod, tilapia, tuna, shark and others hold their shapes well.
However, if preparing fish in other ways, flakier fish are optimal. For instance, with fried fish (where the coating can help hold the shape), fishcakes, soups or stews (where the fish would be broken) or baked dishes (that require little handling), those with professional culinary training usually prefer a delicately textured fish to perk up the recipe.
Preserving the Natural Flavor
Lastly, cooking school instructors and professional chefs stress working with the natural flavor of the fish. Salmon, tuna, grouper, monkfish and others have very distinct flavors. Most often, adding herbs, spices, rubs or light sauces to compliment the taste will give you a more savory result.
Choosing the right fish to include in your favorite recipes will enhance the presentation and flavor. You’ll likely find yourself serving more fish to your family and guests… and that’s good for everybody!