BBC Good Food Magazine
PAN-FRIED FISH FILLETS
Crisp-skinned fish is quick to cook and delicious – here’s how to get it right every time
The right fish
For this, you’ll need boneless fillets of fish with a layer of scaled skin. Salmon, seatrout, trout, seabass, cod, hake, pollack, bream and mullet fillets are ideal. Meatier fish like tuna and monkfish can also be skinned and pan-fried. Make sure your fish is dry and season with a little sea salt, especially on the skin, just before cooking.
The right pan
A trusted non-stick frying pan is a must. If it’s not, the fish will likely stick to the pan and flake off – fish is a lot more delicate and less forgiving than a piece of meat when it comes to frying.
Whether you’re cooking the fish in oil or butter, or a mix of the two, the pan should be on a consistent medium heat. Oil should shimmer, not smoke, and butter should sizzle. If the heat is too low, the fish won’t fry. Too high and it will burn.
Gently lay the fish skin-side down in the hot pan, and as soon as it hits the heat it will tense and curl up a little. When this happens, press it down with a spatula so the skin is flat against the pan. After about 30 seconds it will resume this position and you can stop pressing.
Leave it alone
The aim is to cook the fish mostly on the skin side so the skin becomes crisp and the flesh essentially cooks gently in the heat coming from the it. There is no need to keep turning the fish or moving the pan around – just leave it to sizzle. When the fish looks cooked most of the way through, it’s ready to turn.
The final flip
Flip the fish onto the flesh side for a final minute. If you want, you can add some lemon, lime or wine to the pan to add flavour. Transfer to a warm plate and serve straightaway – fish doesn’t need
any resting time.