Fish can be a tricky one. There are a lot of ways to get it wrong and you’re worried that it’s not that manly a thing to be cooking in the first place.
I’m not really an expert (but then I’m not really an expert in any areas of cooking except roast potatoes), but I’m going to do my best to guide you through this minefield with some solid ideas for dishes and some tips to avoid the worst pitfalls.
Basic fish-cooking tips
- Seasoning – many cuts of many fish can be bland – especially if you are frying a fish with skin, make sure you season it properly (and don’t forget lemons and limes – they’re cliched with fish because they’re good!)
- Really really hot pan – this is true for almost all frying of meat and fish, but again – especially when you are frying a fish with skin, make sure you get your pan hot enough
- Don’t overcook – especially with fish like tuna that can be overcooked easily, make sure that you keep it succulent. I like griddling tuna: when cooking for myself, I like it to barely touch the smoking hot pan on each side. For those who request it more well-done, I still don’t like nuking it so for flat steaks I tend to griddle on one side until it is cooked halfway up the side and then flip and cook until you can no longer see any pink on the side
- Oven-cook for low maintenance – if you want something easy to cook that doesn’t need much of your time watching it, I like cooking fish in a foil parcel in the oven with some bits and pieces of veg, olive oil, lemon juice and maybe a bit of garlic. Easy – and low on washing up!
Step outside the box
- Spicy – fish curry, seasoning with paprika, spicy garnishes (e.g. spicy salsa) – all these things can make it more exciting, add some great flavours and make it a bit more manly. What’s not to like?
- Sushi – eating fish raw is one way to get around both the difficulties of cooking it well and the “isn’t fish a bit girly?” problem…
- Fisherman’s pie – not really a tip so much as a dish, but it qualifies for its own line simply because it is the kind of dish that many people worry they can’t cook, but you should make the effort because it’s a great dish. in the spirit of “No More Recipes”, the ‘recipe’ is: quickly fry some white fish, make some stock, add something creamy to the stock (I like soft goats’ cheese), fry some leeks and other veg you fancy in there, mash some potatoes and then stick ‘em on top of the stew in a casserole / baking dish and bake for a bit…! Gumbo and other stews are fun to experiment with too.
Cooking shellfish is generally easier than regular fish, in my experience – mainly because it’s so tasty that as long as you get good stuff, all you need to do is avoid screwing it up. This is especially true of grilled scallops – seriously – all you have to do is use a hot pan for a short time.
Needing a bit more cooking, but still in the easy and tasty category are rice and fish dishes such as prawn risotto, paella etc.
Photo courtesy of tuija