Everything You Need To Know About Frying Fish

Fear not and fry that fish!

Frying is one of the most universally loved ways to cook fish. It’s quick to prepare, it yields crispiness and tenderness, and its overall simplicity in flavor makes it appealing to a lot of people. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to fry fish properly!

Here are the three different ways to fry fish plus more tips on how to cook fish perfectly. 

Photo by Miguel Nacianceno

1 How to pan-fry fish.

Pan-frying is done simply to sear the fish which adds additional flavor to fish. The browned bits of the fish can be very flavorful!

Here’s what to do: Very lightly coat the bottom of the pan with oil then preheat at high heat before adding the fish, seasoned lightly, skin side down. Cooking the skin first will crisp up the fish’s skin. As fish cooks on one side, the rest of the fish will also lightly cook. That’s why once you flip, you don’t need as much time as you did on the other side to cook the second side. Keep this in mind and you won’t overcook your fish. 

Photo by Majoy Siason

2 How to shallow-fry fish.

This is the most typical way to cook fish. For a browned, crisp crust, fish is shallow-fried in oil.

Here’s what to do:  Enough oil to reach at least halfway up the side of the fish is added to the pan. The oil should be around 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) before the fish is slid in. After the first three minutes, flip the fish to cook evenly. Keep flipping if needed until even cooking is reached.

3 How to deep-fry fish.

Usually done to battered fish sticks, fish tempura, or deep-fried hito, this method of cooking will get you a crispy, browned, and even exterior and a moist center.

Here’s what to do: Prepare your fish. Then, just like with shallow-frying, make sure your oil is hot enough before sliding the fish in. (Oil that isn’t hot enough will make for greasy food.) Slide the fish in the pool of oil and then let it fry until cooked through. Drain on a rack over paper towels to maintain the crispness. 


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4 Tips for less oily fish.

Remember that when frying fish, in the same way you fry everything else, you need to preheat your oil. Cold oil makes for greasy food. If you put your food into oil that’s hot enough, it quickly cooks the surface of the food and effectively seals it, keeping the oil out from being absorbed. After taking it out from the oil, make sure you place it on a strainer or rack. Check out the link below to learn how to test your oil’s temperature. 

5 Tips for keeping fish dry before frying.

If not going to be coated with a wet or dry batter, make sure you pat the fish dry. Coating your fish with flour or cornstarch before frying will help make sure the surface is dry and that you get a delicious crispy exterior. A dry surface will also help it brown beautifully, but most importantly, it will help avoid those dreaded oil splatters.

6 Tips for using a wet batter when frying fish.

Using a wet batter? Whether it’s tempura batter, a beer-based batter, you want to make your batter right before frying. The best time to make it is while you are preheating your oil. Make sure that your batter is cold, and if possible, that your fish is cool from the refrigerator (not the freezer). You can even go so far as to put your batter over a larger bowl filled with ice and water. Cold batters will make for a lighter and crispier coating. 


Cooking fish is fairly easy! Unlike chicken, there is a lesser chance of yielding undercooked fish as it cooks much quicker. It’s such an easy way to eat fish, you really mustn’t miss out on it!

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