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I need a beginner's guide to fish, please.

(10 Posts)
HuffwardlyRudge Tue 02-Jun-09 18:59:23

We have never eaten fish as a family. I am veggie. Dh doesn't like it.

I have decided that this must change.

Today I was VERY BRAVE and bought a whole Red Snapper. With eyes and everything. I baked it. The children LOVED IT!!! Mostly they were excited about it being a whole fish grinning at them, but they ate loads and loved the taste too.

Dd wanted to eat its tongue and eyes, but we weren't sure if she should so we dissuaded her. Could she have done? We were a bit rubbish at serving it too - so many bones and skin (can you eat the skin?) and stuff.

So, I am going to do lots more fish.

What do I need to know?
What should I get? Whole fish or fillets? We live by the sea so fish is really good here.

Assume I know nothing.

Overmydeadbody Tue 02-Jun-09 19:40:12

Go for variety, buy all sorts and see what you and your family like.

Don't eat the eyes or tongue, I don't think they taste nice lol

Skin depends entirely on the fish and how it was cooked. If it is grilled and all crispy, eat it, but some skin is nice, some isn't. Some fish are still quite scaly even if the've been descaled (like Salmon) so don't eat the skin then <<boak>>

Do for whole fish or fillets depending on what you are making. Advantage of fillets is less or even no bones.

Bones should be removed from fish after cooking, don't bother trying to get them out before cooking.

Think of a fish as having two parts, and the bones seperate these two halves, starting at the backbone, so is fairly easy to fillet yourself once cooked removing mst bones and the backbone in the process.

Don't forget things like smoked fish for dished like kedgeree and fish pie.

Overmydeadbody Tue 02-Jun-09 19:45:56

Fish is hugely versatile, and has so much flavour of its own that it doesn't need a lot done to it.

You can bake it, roast it, grill it, steam it, fry it, wrap it in parcels of foil and bake, bbq it, microwave it, poach it, eat it whole, filletted, flaked into a sauce (for fish pie or pasta/rice dishes) make it into fish cakes, eat it raw in sushi, have it cold or hot....

Overmydeadbody Tue 02-Jun-09 19:49:25

A quick google brought up this:

How to cook fish: cooking fish tips.

Grill Preheat grill to a medium setting. Some fish will need to be turned halfway through cooking time. Baste white fish during grilling.

Shallow Fry Dust the fish with seasoned flour. Heat the oil and fry the fish turning halfway through cooking.

Poach Using 70ml (1/8th pint) water and a few drops of lemon juice. Add the fish, simmer gently for the recommended time.

Bake Preheat oven to 190ºC/375ºF, Gas mark 5 (unless otherwise stated). Place the fish in a suitable dish, sprinkle with lemon juice, cover and place in the centre of oven. (Refer to manufacturer's instructions if using fan oven).
Steam Place the fish between 2 plates or in a steamer over a large pan of boiling water.

Microwave Time based on 800 Watt microwave. (Refer to manufacturer's instructions.) Place fish in a suitable container, add 2 x 15ml spoons (2 tablespoons) liquid. Cover and cook. Standing time 2-3 minutes after cooking.
Deep Fry Heat the oil to 180ºC/350ºF. Coat the fish in batter or breadcrumbs and fry until golden brown.

*Fish is Very Quick to Cook*
Fish is fully cooked when it loses its slightly translucent appearance and turns white or opaque in colour. A simple test is to see if a fork or skewer passes easily into the flesh.

*Deep Frying*
Remember to coat the fish thoroughly to protect the flesh and stop the fish from absorbing too much fat. Dust the fish with seasoned flour or with flour, egg, breadcrumbs, oatmeal or batter. Heat the oil to 180ºC/350ºF-190ºC/375ºF. Cook for approximately 4-6 minutes and then drain on absorbent kitchen paper before serving.

*Shallow Frying*
Again, it is important to remember to coat the fish. Use seasoned flour and a small amount of oil for frying - 2-3 tablespoons should be fine. Shallow fry for about 4-5 minutes, turning once.

One of the most popular methods of cooking fish, grilling is healthy, quick and simple. Fish should be basted during cooking to prevent drying out and cooking time on a medium heat is usually between 8 to 10 minutes. Small, whole fish or thin pieces of fish can be cooked without turning but do score whole fish at the thickest part to enable the heat of the grill to penetrate. Small cubes of fish on skewers and thicker pieces of fish should be turned during grilling.

Poaching involves cooking the fish in, typically, milk, stock, wine, water or cider. All or some of this liquid is usually used to make a sauce. To cook the fish the liquid should always be just below boiling point. Poaching will usually take from about 5 minutes for cubes of fish to 10-15 minutes for thicker pieces.

This involves cooking the fish by the heat of the steam between two plates or in a steamer. Because no liquid is required the fish retains much of its original flavour and tenderness. Just add seasoning and a little lemon juice and steam for 5-10 minutes for thin fillets or 15-20 minutes for thicker pieces of fish or whole fish.

There are two simple ways of baking fish: either place in an oven-proof dish with seasoning and herbs, lemon juice and/or vegetables, then add stock, wine or milk and bake in the oven, or alternatively add herbs and a few tablespoons of liquid to the fish before enclosing in foil.

Small whole fish, fillets, steaks or cutlets can be baked for about 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish at 200ºC/400ºF (Gas mark 6). Large whole fish should be baked at 180ºC/350ºF (Gas mark 4) for about 30-40 minutes.

Fish is naturally moist so needs little basting, but for extra flavour on the barbecue it can be left to marinade for around half an hour before cooking. If barbecuing a whole fish, slits or slashes at the thickest part will make cooking faster and more even.

Cooking fish in foil parcels will give quick, moist results. Barbecue cooking times are the same for grilling.

The microwave is excellent for cooking fish. Always remember to cover the fish with a lid or microwaveable food wrap. Season after cooking and add less liquid than for other methods of cooking. Cooking time varies according to thickness and quantity but as a rule of thumb 450g (1lb) of fillets would cook in about 4-5 minutes plus 2-3 minutes standing time.

Overmydeadbody Tue 02-Jun-09 19:50:33

Fish is cooked as soon as it looses its translucence, when it is firm and flakes away easily.

SarfEast Tue 02-Jun-09 20:01:05

Just want to put in a link about fish, try to buy it from sustainable sources, as a lot of popular fish stocks are on the edge of extinction (like skate sad) go for packs with the marine stewardship council stamp

fish to avoid:

and if you live by the sea maybe go to a local fishmonger and get locally caught fish rather than the supermarket, thus doing your bit for the local economy grin.

HuffwardlyRudge Tue 02-Jun-09 20:01:08

Thanks OMDB! That's a good guide.

Smoked fish, and fish pie both excellent ideas too.

HuffwardlyRudge Tue 02-Jun-09 20:03:04

Good point Sarf. We're not in the UK, so no little labels, but I shall read up about species to avoid.

SarfEast Tue 02-Jun-09 20:04:55

I think Hugh Fernley Whittinstall did a book about fish might give you some nice recipes for more unusual types of fish.

Overmydeadbody Tue 02-Jun-09 20:07:14

Good point Sarf, I forgot to mention that, but yes do look it up, some fishing practices are horrendous and some species are almost extinct as a result. If I where you I'd stick to local varieties of fish. Lots of info on the websites Sarf provided already.

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