Pan-fried, mild white fish served with a fresh and simple avocado and tomato salsa.
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If you really want to learn how to cook, then you need to practice the concepts taught in this lesson. We've compiled some "edible exercises" along with some supporting recipes that will help reinforce what was taught in this lesson.
Pan frying fish perfectly will take some practice. Start out slow by pan frying over low heat. Your first task is to pan fry a thin, lean piece of fish, such as sole, over low heat. Follow the instructions in the lesson. Simply pat the fish dry and season with a bit of salt and pepper (use white pepper if you don’t want to see any black flecks). Add a bit of unsalted butter to a non-stick pan and gently cook the fish, making sure to place it presentation-side down first. Monitor the edges and flip when necessary. Once flipped, test the fish early and often for doneness to ensure it does not overcook. Transfer to a plate and squeeze some fresh lemon juice over top, if desired. When you eat the fish, take note of how juicy it is when fish is just cooked though.
The next task is to cook a fattier and thicker piece of fish, such as salmon, over low heat in the same manner as described above. Monitor the thickness as the flesh begins to turn opaque. Once it has cooked about half way up, turn the fish over. Continue to cook, checking early and often for doneness. If you have always eaten well-done fish, try cooking it until it is just done. If you have cooked salmon, try undercooking it slightly. Salmon does benefit from being a bit undercooked and translucent in the very center. Taste the delicate and juicy flesh to experience the difference.
Next, move on to cooking a thick piece of fish (lean or oily, skin-on or skinless) in a stainless-steel pan over higher heat. Once the pan has been properly heated, add some oil and place the fish presentation-side down. The fish will cook much more quickly over higher heat, so make sure to watch for the indicators of when to flip. Once flipped, the presentation side should have a nice, golden crust or crispy skin. Let the fish cook a bit longer, testing early and often for doneness. Transfer to a plate and serve. Once you practice and become more comfortable with higher heat, you’ll intuitively know the amount of time it will take to pan fry fish to perfection.
Try a few of the recipes below and see how easy it is to pan fry fish.
Tilapia, served with a cilantro and orange cumin vinaigrette is garnished with crispy fried capers.
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Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver