We love when you visit us at Marker 32, some nights just call for a cozy home-cooked meal. The beauty of cooking seafood is the simplicity, although it’s not a simple skill to learn. But lucky for you, we have some incredible chefs who were willing to share their secrets.
Sear and Pat the Seafood Dry
Dab all sides down with a paper towel. We mean DRY. Even the slightest bit of moisture will prevent the fish from getting a crispy, golden-brown crust you definitely want. Also, don’t handle fish like you do with meat. Touch it minimally.
Get it Good and Hot
Using the right kind of pan at the right temperature is just as important as salting water when you cook pasta. Use a cast iron skillet or blue steel pan–get it blazing hot, then pour in 1 tbsp. of oil and a generous pinch of salt. Take the skillet off the heat and use a paper towel to wipe the oil and salt from the pan. Fish cooks quickly, and you know it’s properly seared when it can be removed from the pan without flaking apart.
*Heating the oil and salt creates a temporary non-stick surface. Genius! You can also simply use a nonstick skillet, although the fish won’t get as golden and crispy.
Keep it Simple
Fish is so delicate and its incredible flavors can be easily overpowered. Salt, pepper and some herbs or lemon juice will do the job, and do it well. When fish is quality and cooked well, all it needs is minimal seasoning. Remember, you can always add more!
Buy the Good Stuff
A good place to start for someone new to cooking seafood is with thick, quality 1”+ fillets of cod, halibut or salmon. Ask anyone in the seafood department at your local grocery store for help, they’re full of good advice and will point you in the right direction.
Be a Pro and Use a Fish Spat
A fish spatula, that is. Use the fish spat to apply even, firm pressure, skin-side down, to the fillet until it lies flat. Press down periodically until it’s opaque and nearly cooked, except for a small raw area in the middle. Now, time to flip! Only cook the raw side for about a minute.
Don’t make these common mistakes:
- Removing the Skin: For fish like salmon, removing the skin is just unnecessary. It’s so yummy! Start cooking the fish skin-side down and let it get crispy.
- Overcooking: The general rule of thumb is 8-10 minutes per inch of thickness, although this isn’t always the case.
- Leaving the fish moist: Whether you let the fish air dry or pat it down with paper towels, don’t skip this.
- Treating all fish the same: Apart from most flaky white fish, most types of seafood require their own way of prep and cooking. For example, you wouldn’t cook a fillet of salmon the same way you would tuna. Always ask a cooking connoisseur or do some research before tackling a new cooking task.
- Overcrowding the pan: This goes for anything you’re cooking, not just seafood. But in this case, some of the fish will burn and some will be undercooked. No bueno!
- Flipping too frequently: If you catch yourself flipping more than once, you’re doing it wrong. Learn to wait long enough for the meat to get a nice sear. This is especially true if you put breading on the fillet. Patience is a virtue, my dear.
- Start cooking straight from the fridge: Let any seafood or meat sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes before cooking. Otherwise, the outside will get crispy and the inside will be raw.
- Use the wrong ingredients: We’re all for experimenting in the kitchen, but it can get dangerous! If you don’t know there’s a difference between baking powder and baking soda, follow the recipe completely.
Cooking is a blast, and cooking great food is even better. Knowing how to cook a fish fillet is a basic skill, just like making hard boiled eggs. Hopefully we helped boost your confidence in the kitchen just in time for a yummy seafood dinner! But if it doesn’t turn out how you hoped, no worries! Check out any of our five locations in the Jacksonville area for a yummy dish and a great view.