Cooking Fish: the Basics

Fish is fast and easy to fix, and below are seven simple ways to get a flavorful dish in minutes.


+ enlarge image Use just enough liquid to half-cover the fish.
  • For the simmering liquid, use just enough broth, wine, water, or a combination of liquids to half-cover the fish. Bring the liquid just to boiling.
  • Carefully add the fish. Return just to boiling, then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer gently until done. Allow 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness of fish.
  • As a guide, one pound of fillets or steaks with skin will give you about 12 ounces of cooked meat.
  • In a fish poacher pan or a large roasting pan that has a wire rack with handles, pour in enough liquid to half-cover the fish. With fish and rack not in the pan, bring the liquid just to boiling.
  • Place the fish on the greased rack of the pan. Carefully lower rack into the pan. Return just to boiling, then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer gently until done. Allow 6 to 9 minutes per 1/2 pound.
  • A 2-1/2-pound dressed fish will give you about 1-3/4 pounds of cooked meat.
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the fish in a single layer in a greased shallow baking pan. For fillets, tuck under any thin edges. Brush fish with melted butter or margarine. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Bake, uncovered, in the 450 degree oven until done, basting with butter if necessary. Allow 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the fish in a greased baking pan.
  • Brush the outside and the cavity of the fish with melted butter. Season. Bake, uncovered, in the 350 degree F oven until done. Allow 6 to 9 minutes per 1/2 pound of fish.
  • Place fish in a single layer in a greased nonmetal baking dish. For fillets, tuck under any thin edges. Brush fish with melted butter, then season.
  • Cover with heavy clear plastic wrap. Vent wrap by leaving one corner of dish unsealed. Micro-cook on 100 percent power (high) until done. Allow 3 to 5 minutes for 1/2-pound fillets (1/2 inch thick), 5 to 7 minutes for 1-pound fillets (1/2 inch thick), and 7 to 9 minutes for 1-pound steaks (3/4 to 1 inch thick). For fillets, rotate the dish a half-turn after 3 minutes. For steaks, turn them over and rearrange them after 4 minutes.
  • Preheat broiler. Place fish on a greased rack of an unheated broiler pan. Tuck under any thin edges. Brush with butter; season.
  • Broil 4 inches from the heat until done, basting with butter if necessary. Allow 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2-inch of thickness. Turn fish over halfway through broiling.
  • Place fillets in a well-greased grill basket so they won't break apart. You don't need a basket for steaks, but be sure to brush the grill rack with cooking oil so the steaks won't stick.
  • Grill the fish on an uncovered grill directly over medium-hot coals until done, seasoning and basting with butter if necessary. Allow 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness. If fish is 1 inch or more thick, turn it over halfway through grilling.
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