4 takes on fish cookery

From 2011-06-15-2011-06-30 start of summer

1. While at a local seafood retailer, we watched the fish monger pull a large yellow fin tuna out of the cooler and start breaking it down. I don’t think I’ve ever had access to tuna that was so fresh, so there was no way I could pass it up. Dressed with canola oil, salt, and pepper, and seared on the grill. I’ve posted on this before, but with good product, the less you do, the better.

A few days later, the fam went on another trip to this seafood shop and returned with swordfish, more tuna, and skin-on salmon. My challenge was to cook all three using different techniques, keeping it kid-friendly as they helped pick out the fish and were excited to try it.

From 2011-06-15-2011-06-30 start of summer

2. In this case, I pan seared the tuna and dressed it with soy sauce. If I hadn’t been feeding this to the kids, I might have added some wasabi powder/paste or fresh ground horseradish. If you look at the sides of the fish, you can see the depth of the sear isn’t too high.

From 2011-06-15-2011-06-30 start of summer

3. Swordfish with brown butter sauce. With firm texture here, this was one that I pulled off more medium than rare. When the fish comes out, add a tbsp of butter to the pan and heat until it turns brown and smells nutty; sauce the fish with the butter. Feel free to add capers and lemon juice.

From 2011-06-15-2011-06-30 start of summer

4. The final installment is crispy skin salmon over an onion/squash sautee in tabasco butter sauce. The trick to the crispy skin in this case was to cook skin side down on medium (not high) heat and making sure there’s enough oil/butter in the pan. I covered the pan to help it cook through, then uncovered and flipped it for the last minute or two. Good salmon could be eaten raw, but I was looking for rare to medium rare. The red powder is cayenne pepper, and I added a little bit of olive oil around the edges for an extra layer of flavor. OK, so this one isn’t as kid friendly, but I reserved some before plating on the squash and they tried this one, too.

Here are some of the considerations I’m thinking of when cooking fish.

Is the skin on? If so, treat it like the salmon. Cook over lower heat than you think you need, skin side down. If you cover the fish, the steam generated will cook the fish through. Alternatively, you could flip the fish over and cook on the flesh side.

What’s the fish texture? If it’s firm like halibut, swordfish, monkfish, grouper, you’re less likely to overcook it. Pan roasting works well (cook one side, flip, put the pan in the oven until done). If it’s really soft like black cod, kingklip, trout then you have to be pretty gentle.

Would I eat it raw? You might have to be a sushi-lover to answer this. With good, fresh salmon or tuna, I’ll cook to rare/medium-rare. With price club frozen salmon fillets they should probably be more like medium.

How is the fish butchered? For a big slab of salmon, I cut these down to individual fillets about 2-3 finger widths (about 2 inches with these hands). When it gets too thin, cut the tail section off and cook it like that. Think of portion size and how you want it to cook when you decide how to butcher it.


One thought on “4 takes on fish cookery

  1. Pingback: Simple take on “fish cookery” & tasty noodles « Big Dawg Eats

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