Why You Should Pretty Much Always Buy Frozen Fish
It seems counterintuitive, but when it comes to fish, opting for frozen is the best way to guarantee it's fresh.
I’m not really sure why, but a lot of us seem to be afraid of fish. We love eating it… in restaurants. But the idea of cooking it at home inspires terror. I think I have a very easy solution to that. AND, unless you live right next to the water your fish comes from, my solution will also get you the freshest fish possible.
Buy frozen fish. Always. Period.
I realize that may seem to contradict what I just said about “freshest,” but it really doesn’t. And here’s why. When you go to the store and see a fish display, most of that fish was frozen until defrosted at the store. And there’s no way to tell how or when the store defrosted it. Fish and seafood frozen at sea, moments after being caught and cleaned, and sold to you still frozen, allows you to decide when and how to defrost, right before you cook it. And that will provide you with remarkably fresh flavor and texture.
But this still doesn’t answer the “fear factor” question.
If you buy good quality frozen fish, either from a huge seller (Costco), or a grocery store you trust, or one of the new frozen fish shipped direct-to-you companies (like the wonderful Sitka Salmon Shares), you’ll have precut, pre-cleaned and trimmed, equally portioned fish. That takes care of three fears (how do I know what to buy, how do I tell if it’s fresh, and how do I portion it) right there.
And now for the big fear — the actual cooking. So, here’s the thing. Overcooked fish may not be perfect, but it’s still perfectly good. Undercooked fish is actually, in most cases, better. So the only trick to cooking fish fillets at home is: Cook it fast. You have cleaned, perfectly portioned fish fillets to work with, so the cooking will be a snap. Heat some oil, or butter and oil, in a nonstick pan, add in the seasoned fillet, gently turn it over after a minute or so and let it cook another minute or so. That is really all there is to it, just be sure to always err on the side of undercooked. And if it’s a thicker piece of fish, just add a minute or so to each side. Once you do this a few times, you’ll be a pro.
Another fear that this method will take care of: “But the house will smell like fish!” No, it won’t. Cook a thin fillet fast, and all the house will smell like is… dinner!