Fish is popular all over the world in both fresh and saltwater varieties. In fact, there are a number of cuisines that are centered around fish. There are a large number of ways to prepare this protein, ranging from frying to baking, most of which are easy for home cooks. The imagination is the only limit.
Preparing a great dish starts with selecting good fish. The fresher it is, the better it will taste. Cooks should try to assess the condition of their options in the store and not be afraid to ask the staff which is most fresh, or which type they recommend. Sales staff can also usually provide suggestions for preparation, as some varieties are better suited to certain preparations than others. The shopper should make this selection her last stop, to keep her purchases as cool as possible. The fish should be chilled immediately or set to marinate.
One of the simplest ways to prepare fish is by baking it. It can be placed in a large dish, dressed with a simple sauce, and cooked in an oven heated to 350° Fahrenheit (176° Celsius). The fish is done when it has turned white and flaky, with no pink parts in the middle. It can be served with lemon, salt, and pepper.
Many people like broiled fish, a variant on baking. To broil it, the oven broiler should be fully heated, then the dish placed under it. This preparation can be delicious in a simple marinade with cheese sprinkled on top, which will melt onto the fish as it cooks.
Another popular preparation is grilling. When grilling fish, select hardy species which will stand up well, rather than flaking apart. It can be marinated in a variety of sauces, including tropical sauces, Japanese miso sauce, barbecue sauce, or any many others. The fish should be grilled over warm coals, and turned once. For an extra jolt of flavor, it can be wrapped in bacon.
Seared fish is popular in some regional cuisines. To prepare it this way, a meaty variety, such as tuna, should be selected and seared on both sides quickly in a hot sauté pan. Some cooks like to make a crust for it before searing. When prepared correctly, the middle will remain pink and juicy, as well as slightly cool to the tongue. It can be left in the pan longer for those who prefer their meal cooked more. For poached fish, a liquid such as wine can be added to the pan after searing.
Fried fish is another popular preparation. It can be pan fried in oil and served with lemon, or it can be battered and deep fried. To avoid greasiness, use oils with a high smoking point, such as peanut oil, so that the oil can be heated enough to sear the outside, keeping the oil out of the inside. It is important to drain the fish carefully before serving.
With the addition of interesting sauces and complementary side dishes, fish can make an excellent meal. Exploring new recipes can also be a fun activity for the whole family. Eco-conscious consumers may want to consider making sure their purchases are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, which monitors global fisheries. Pregnant and immunocompromised consumers should be aware that some fish, such as tuna, accumulate heavy levels of mercury, which can be dangerous.