Fish: you either love it or hate it. However, we should all love it. When I ask people what it is about fish they do not like, the response is always the same. They do not like cooking it because they do not like the fishy smell. While it is true that some fish will leave a slight lingering smell, when cooked right there should never be a stinky fish smell.
I personally love fish. It is a lean protein that is simple and easy to prepare on a busy work night. Unfortunately, getting fresh fish is hard in Syracuse and often time outside my budget so I buy frozen fish. They come each individually vacuum sealed and I defrost them overnight in the refrigerator by taking them out of the vacuum sealed package and putting them into a zip top bag.
Once it comes time to cook, fish should be treated like any other protein. It should be pat dried and brought to room temperature for even cooking. I also preheated two nonstick frying pans over a medium heat. Salmon can be cooked in a stainless steel or cast iron pan as well. However since this was a skinless filet, I was not going to be using high heat and therefore chose nonstick. Now, since I used two different types of fish, I also used two different techniques.
Let’s start with the salmon. Once I dried the salmon filet, I seasoned both sides with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, as that is how my wife requested. Once the pan was nice an heated a put about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan and heated it up. Once the oil began to glisten, I placed the salmon filet in the pan, laying it away from me to prevent an oil splatter from any residual moisture in the fish. Fish, like all proteins, will shrink as it cooks and the ends of the salmon may want to curl. To prevent this, with a skinless filet, just gently press down on the fish with a spatula to keep it flat. Cook the fish 3-4 minutes per side. Cooking times may vary based on the size of your filet, just watch the color on the side. When the opaque color is roughly halfway up the side it is time to flip. Gently flip the fish over, revealing the great sear and crust you just created and cook another 3-4 minutes. Once your filet is done cooking remove from the pan and let the fish rest for a bit at room temperature to firm up before serving
Alright, so the flounder is a little different. Unlike salmon which is a hard protein, flounder is a white fish which is softer and a lot more delicate. This protein needs to be protected. To do that, I coat the fish very lighting in a pan searing flour that I picked up from Wegmans. (find it here). This flour coat is meant not to create a fried crust but rather protect the fish. This flour already has salt and pepper in it, however, I find that seasoning the fish directly is also helpful. (Protip: instead of seasoning the fish with salt and pepper, season the flour dredge with freshly cracked black pepper and Old Bay seasoning). Preheat a nonstick pan over a medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. For this fish nonstick is essential as I said earlier it is a delicate fish so using nonstick will ensure that the fish will stay together. Once the pan and oil are hot, place the fish into the pan, again laying the fish away from you to prevent getting splashed with oil. Cook on each side for 3-4 minutes, again watching as the color comes up around the sides of the fish. Remove from the ban and let rest for 1-2 minutes to allow the fish to firm again (Optional: squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over the fish for a bit of acid to cut the gently fried flavor).
I plated both fish with a simple herb and butter rice for a gentle light aromatic side. Fish is an easy and simple dish that takes about 10 mintues to make on a busy weekday night. It is a great change from other lean proteins and is a light protein for those who are health conscious.
1 frozen salmon filet (defrosted for at least 24 hours)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat a nonstick, cast iron, or stainless steel frying pan over a medium heat
- Add 2 table spoons of olive oil and heat
- Pat dry the salmon filet and season with salt and pepper to taste (or with any other seasoning you wish)
- Cook salmon 3-4 minutes per side
- Allow salmon to rest 1-2 minutes to firm before serving
1 frozen flounder filet (defrosted for at least 24 hours)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Searing Flour (enough to lightly coat the filet)
1 lemon wedge (optional)
Salt, pepper and Old Bay seasoning to taste
- Preheat a nonstick frying pan over a medium heat
- Add olive oil and heat
- mix salt, pepper and old bay seasoning into searing flour
- Pat dry flounder filet and lightly coat with flour mixture shaking off the excess flour
- Place flounder in frying pan and cook 3-4 minutes per side
- Allow flounder to rest 1-2 minutes before serving
- (optional) Squeeze lemon wedge over fish
Herb and Butter Rice can be found here
Let me know if you try this recipe. What is your favorite fish to cook?