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How to Cook Fish

Cooking Lean
One of the secrets to cooking Florida fish is to make allowances for the fat content. In other words, lean fish may be cooked by dry heat methods such as baking or broiling, if you baste frequently with melted butter or shortening to prevent drying (Try combing lemon or garlic with the basting fat, or using a basting sauce.) Fish with high fat content don't have to be basted.

It's also important not to overcook fish. It should be moist and tender with a delicate flavor. Overcooking causes the fish to become increasingly dry and chewy. You can tell the fish is done when the flesh is translucent and can be easily flaked with a fork.

Three Basic Cuts of Fish

Sides of fish are cut lengthwise along backbone.

Dressed, or pan-dressed
Scaled, drawn with head, tail and fins removed.

Cross-sectional slices are cut from larger fish.

Fish Chowder
In a deep pan, fry until crisp 3 or 4 slices of chopped bacon. Add 1 or 2 onions, 2 cups of sliced potatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. When the potatoes are nearly soft, put in about 2 pounds of cubed fillets with bones removed. Cook fish until tender, about 15 minutes; add 4 cups evaporated milk. (Or use powdered milk pre-mixed in water and reduce water used to boil potatoes.) Add a generous chunk of butter, bring just to a boil and simmer until hot throughout. Salt and pepper to taste.

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Campfire Cooking

Baking With Foil
An easy way of cooking Florida fish is by using aluminum foil and charcoal or propane. Lay the fillet on a sheet of heavy foil making sure the backbone does not poke a hole. People top their fish with everything from salad oil and mayonnaise to simple think-sliced potatoes and butter. Experiment!

A simple cooking method is to fry fish in a heavy cast iron skillet. clean the fish, wipe nearly dry, then flour with corn meal, pancake mix, or packaged biscuit mix. Flour fish by shaking it in a paper sack. If a batter of eggs and milk is used, dip fish in cracker or bread crumbs. Use oil, shortening, or butter about a quarter inch deep in skillet, preheating until hot, but not smoking, or until a bit of bread browns, quickly. As soon as the fish browns on one side, turn it over. when it flakes with a fork, remove from the skillet and drain on a paper towel.

Cooking Your Fish At Home

Sprinkle serving-sized portions of fish with salt and pepper. Place on preheated greased broiler pan, skin side up if skin has not been removed from fillets. Brush with melted butter. Broil about 2 inches from heat 5 to 8 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Rub cleaned fish inside and out with salt; place in a greased baking pan. Brush with melted fat (lay slices of bacon over top if desired). Bake in a moderate oven till fish flakes easily with a fork. If fish seems dry while baking, baste with drippings.

Salt cleaned fish on both sides. Place fish in a well-greased steamer pan and cook over boiling water till fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve at once with lemon or sauce.

Deep Fat Frying
Sprinkle serving-sized portion of fish with salt and pepper. Dip fish in a mixture of 1 tablespoon milt to 1 egg. Roll in bread or cracker crumbs, cornmeal, or flour. cook fish in deep fat (375) till golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper. Serve with lemon or sauce.

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