How to Cook Fork-Tender Fish

Know how to end up tender and delicate fish with these hacks.

This protein can be tricky to prepare! If you already had a run-in with tough, chewy, and overdone fish, you aren't alone. Follow these tips for cooking fish in every way: pan-seared, grilled, baked, or poached. There are tell-tale signs for doneness, and if you watch out for them, dinner will be ready in no time. 

 


 

On the frying pan:

Pan-searing fish fillets is perfect for weeknights: it is so simple to do! Go for a non-stick frying pan or a well-oiled stainless steel pan. Pat your fillets dry before seasoning and placing them on a hot pan. Do not move your fish for the first 3 minutes. Wait for that crisp, golden crust to form at the bottom, then flip to cook for 2 more minutes. Once the flesh turns opaque, take your dish off the heat and serve immediately. 

 

 


 

On the grill:

Flaky, tender fish has a tendency to break apart from getting stuck on a hot grill. Try this easy hack: grill them over lemon wedges to avoid having them stick to the grill. This trick will also flavor your fish with the bright, zesty flavor of fresh lemon! 

 

 


 

In the oven:

Always bake skin-side down over parchment paper. This will ensure a crusty skin that will slide off your pan easily. If your fillet is 1/2 to 1 inch thick, check for doneness after 8 minutes of baking in medium-high heat. Use of fork to slightly flake one fillet. If the meat is opaque and flakes easily off your fork, it is done! 

 

 

 


 

Poached:

To poach fish, fillets are placed into warm liquid, usually oil or a broth, and slowly simmered until flaky and tender. Use a flavorful oil to highlight the fish—olive oil works best! Simmer over low to moderate heat for around 20 minutes. To check for doneness, use a small knife. 

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