How to Sear Fish

by katerina on June 11, 2007

I have this theory that eating fish makes you smart. Anyone who knows me knows that at any given time I have some theory on the go about eating or drinking. For example in college there was the shots theory (if sugar is what makes you hungover then vodka shots are the way to go, the problem was the losing count thing..), the garlic root theory (that the root inside a piece of garlic was causing my indigestion) and about a zillion other allergy related theories. I think this one has merit though, plus if fish makes you smart and wine makes you stupid then as long as I balance them out I end up where I started!

So with all the fabulous things in season right now I have been trying to be more proactive about trying new seafood and cooking it myself. I have been paying lots of attention to Helen at Beyond Salmon‘s site and she has pretty much taught me all I know about this technique, so she gets all the credit and hopefully I won’t shame her by giving out bad advice.

How-to Sear Fish:
In order to get that beautiful restaurant sear you don’t need to flour your fish. Simply pat both sides dry and salt and pepper it. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat, when it is hot add a healthy pat of butter and when that starts to bubble add the fish serving side down (skin down if it has any). Allow to cook until brown and crispy about 3-4 minutes. Flip the fish and cook for another minute minimum. The rule of thumb is not more than 8 minutes per inch of thickness.

Depending on the fish and your taste your cooking time will vary. For me most fish should be medium rare to medium depending on the fish.

I have in the last week cooked an arctic char fillet, a halibut steak and my biggest success that even J gobbled up was the sable. One thing that you do not want to do is to use a pan where the fish is likely to stick – Helen has had success with cast iron as well as the non-stick but I have only tried out the non-stick. Also try not to fuss too much, go ahead and check the browning but there shouldn’t be any reason to flip it more then once. If you want to check for done-ness by seeing if it flakes go right ahead.

The Sable:

Here is the arctic char, and my lemon caper pan sauce, but it is still under development:

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