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How to Cook Fish and Seafood: The Best Cooking Methods for Every Type

Created April 1, 2022
No matter if you've been working with fish for years or are new to the game, we've rounded up some must-make methods you have to try. There's a cooking style for everyone on this list, from grilling to searing and everything in between. Start by picking out a recipe and a technique (more on all that below). Then, gather your ingredients and get going!
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7 Ways to Cook Fish & Seafood

From preparation methods to what fish and seafood you should select, consider this a cheat sheet on what to make and how to cook it. Let’s dive in!

Fry

There’s nothing better than a classic fish fry. From the crispy, golden brown texture to the tender fish, it’s simple and beyond delish. Start by dipping your fish in seasoned flour, beaten eggs, and breadcrumbs and add it to a skillet of hot oil.

When it comes to frying, a white, flaky fish such as cod works best. Why? This is due to its ability to easily take on breading and the higher temps used in cooking. If you can’t find cod, tilapia, grouper, haddock, catfish and snapper are great second choices.

For a mess-free twist on the classic fried fish, consider making your fish in an air fryer. Don’t worry; the result will still be that classic crispy, golden brown texture you know and love.

Grill

Warm nights grilling on the patio has to be in our top five favorite things. From cooking for friends to an intimate dinner with the family, grilling is always easy and delicious. Both gas and charcoal grills work great!

When it comes to grilling fish and seafood, the grill allows for a large variety of options. Salmon, tuna, swordfish, mahi-mahi all work wonderfully, and we also love throwing clams, lobster tails and shrimp on the ‘barbie.’ Tip for the grill master, consider using a foil pack, cast-iron skillet, a grilling basket for clams, and skewers (metal or soaked bamboo) for shrimp when cooking.

Steam

You know that feeling when you’re looking for something healthy for dinner, but you’re short on time? We feel you. That’s why we love steaming fish. Steaming helps retain many awesome vitamins and minerals that can be lost when frying.

This can be done simply by using parchment paper and folding it around the fish. Try using whitefish, flounder, snapper or even mussels or shrimp if you’re looking to explore other seafood options.

Broil

This quick and easy method is great for a speedy and delicious dinner in a pinch. Salmon, bluefish, and mackerel work great when broiling fish, just be sure to start by cooking them skin-side up to prevent your fish from curling.

You’ll start by placing the top oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler and setting the temperature to broil. Lightly oil your pan or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Be careful, too much oil can catch fire under the broiler!

When it comes to your cook time, the general rule for broiling fish is 8 to 10 minutes per inch of thickness. So, for example, a 1-inch-thick salmon filet should be done in 8 to 10 minutes, while a 1/3-inch tilapia filet would be more like 3 to 4 minutes!

Roast

If you’re looking for a fuss-free and quick dinner option, roast fish is it. Just place your fish, herbs and veggies into a foil packet or on a sheet pan, and toss it in the oven. This works great whether you’re cooking for two or for the family, thanks to the customizable size of your packets.

Poach

Poaching is fantastic for locking in moisture and flavor without adding fat to your fish. It’s also way easier than it sounds. In a large pan, you’ll combine your poaching liquids (think stock, wine, herbs, etc.) and place your fish in the mixture. The process is quick, and the outcome is beyond flavor-packed. When it comes to selecting fish, monkfish, albacore and other tuna, arctic char, turbot, skate and halibut all work really well.

Sear

Yes, you can achieve restaurant-quality fish in your own home, and yes, it’s perfect for date night with your boo or delicious enough to serve the family.

Let's take salmon for example. Get cooking by heating just enough oil to coat the bottom of a large skillet and place over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the fish skin-side down and press filets lightly with a spatula for about 10 seconds each to keep the edges from curling up. Cook 7 to 9 minutes without moving, then use a fish spatula to carefully turn each filet and cook 2 to 4 minutes longer, until fish is flaky (at least 145 degrees F in the center).

Cooking your fish skin-side down is a great trick to help get the bottom of your fish crispy and keep it from sticking! Using a hot pan or hot fat before you add your fish, drying your fish off with paper towels before seasoning and not moving your fish around or trying to turn it before it’s ready are other good methods to keep your fish from sticking.

Some of our other pan-frying fish faves include black bass, haddock, fluke, striped bass, tilefish or snapper. Use herbs to garnish your fish to give it that restaurant-quality presentation!

What Kind of Marinades Should I Use?

A good rule of thumb is to work with the fish’s flavor profile. So, for a white, flaky fish, a light marinade would be better suited where a salmon can handle a bolder marinade. From classic lemons, herbs and olive oil combos to Asian-inspired marinades, the sky is the limit. Get creative and test out a few!

Tips On Dealing With Lingering Odors

Love fish, don't always love the smell? We feel you. Try diffusing some citrus or essential oils, or leave a bowl of coffee grounds out when cooking since coffee is a natural odor neutralizer.

If you’re new to cooking with fish, just take it slow. If you're an expert, test out a new method! Either way, you'll rock it!