The Basics of Cooking Fish
This easy recipe for Parmesan-Crusted Fish takes just 20 minutes from start to finish.
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Cooking fish can be as simple as turning on your oven and baking it for a few minutes until tender. Whether you want to know how to cook fish fillets, fish steaks, or dressed whole fish, our easy tips for baking fish will help you prepare and cook any fish recipe.
1. How to prep the fish
- If fish is frozen, allow enough time for it to thaw, covered, in the refrigerator.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F for fillets or steaks or 350 degrees F for dressed fish.
- For fillets with skin, if desired, use a sharp fillet knife to remove the skin from the raw fish. You can also remove the skin after baking.
- Rinse fish and pat dry with paper towels. Place the fish in a single layer in a greased shallow baking pan. For fillets, tuck under any thin edges. Brush fish with olive oil, melted butter, or pesto to keep it moist, and season as desired with snipped fresh or dried herbs, spice blends, minced garlic, and/or salt and pepper.
Cooking Fish: The Basics
How to Tell if Fish is Fresh
Measuring the thickness of your fish is a good way to determine the cooking time.
2. How to bake fish: Calculating cooking time
How long to cook fish depends on the cut. Because fish cooks quickly and dries out if overcooked, use these guides to estimate minimum cooking time for fish.
- Dressed and pan-dressed fish: Dressed fish means ready-to-cook fish with organs, scales, and fins removed. Pan-dressed fish is a dressed fish with the head and tail removed. Weigh a dressed or pan-dressed fish before cooking, then bake, uncovered, in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 6 to 9 minutes per 8 ounces.
- Fish steaks and fillets: A fish steak is a ready-to-cook cross-cut slice from a large dressed fish (usually 1/2 to 1 inch thick). Popular fish steaks include salmon, swordfish, tuna, halibut, and mako shark. Fish fillets are ready-to-cook boneless pieces of fish cut from the side and away from the backbone (may or may not be skinned). Favorite fillets include catfish, salmon, grouper, red snapper, and tilapia. For fillets or steaks, use a ruler to measure the thickness of the fish before cooking, then bake, uncovered, in the preheated 450 degrees F oven for 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness of fish.
Fish Cooking Charts
How to Cook Tuna
How to Bake Salmon
Before serving, check fish for doneness. The baked fish should be tender and flaky, like this baked cod. Leftover cooked fish can be covered and chilled up to two days.
Baked Cod Recipe
3. How to test fish for doneness
- Always check the fish at the minimum baking time. Insert a fork into the fish and gently twist. The fish is done as soon as it begins to flake. The fish juices will be milky white.
Tip: A traditional accompaniment to baked fish is tartar sauce. This Tatar Sauce recipe takes just minutes to stir together from scratch.
Our Favorite Baked Fish Recipes
Baja Fish Tacos
Grouper with Tropical Salsa
Crispy Almond Fish