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How to Prepare Fish: Blackened Fish, Cedar Plank Salmon, Salt Fish- 18 Ways to Cook Fish

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Rose Mary's mother and all of her aunts are great Southern cooks. She likes to think she's not so bad herself.

Cedar Plank Salmon on the Grill

Cedar Plank Salmon on the Grill

Different Ways To Cook Fish

We all know fish is supposed to be good for us (BP oil spill, mercury, farmed fish, and other issues aside). Maybe you’d like to commit to eating more fish, but only know a couple ways to prepare fish. That could get old if you were aiming for two to three fish meals a week.

Like many others, I would like to eat more fish. To that end, I consulted YouTube for inspiration. Here is a nice variety of techniques for cooking fish. Included in this hub:

4 Methods to Cook Fish in the Oven

4 Methods to Cook Fish on the Grill

3 Techniques for Frying Fish

3 Fish Stews

4 Campfire Methods to Cook Fish


4 Methods to Cook in the Oven

  • Salt Crusted
  • Trout Baked in Newspaper
  • Marinated and Baked
  • Baked in Parchment

4 Methods to Cook on the Grill

  • Cedar Plank Salmon
  • Blackened
  • Kebabs
  • Grilled Whole

3 Techniques for Frying

  • Dusted and Fan Fried or Deep Fried
  • Battered and Beer Battered and Fried
  • Fried Indian Style

3 Stews

  • Brazilian Stew
  • Health Stew
  • Malaysian Chowder

4 Campfire Cooking Methods

  • Cooking Whole Directly on Coals
  • Cooked Whole on a Spit
  • Baked on a Rock
  • Baked in Leaves on Coals

Preparing Salt Crusted Fish

Salt Crusting Method

I was introduced to salt crusted fish in Ankara, Turkey. The presentation is dramatic, and the fish is ‘melt in your mouth’ tender and delicious. In Turkey, they cooked the fish in an oblong copper fish kettle. The fish is completely covered in salt which hardens. They break the salt off with a mallet and chisel. Then they de-bone the fish. All of this is done table side.

This video shows Salt Crusted Sea Bass. Use a mixture of 50% course sea salt and 50% fine table salt. Dampen the salt and spread a bed of salt on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with garlic and place bay leaves. Using a gutted whole sea bass, season the cavity with salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Heap salt around fish, taking care to close and protect the cavity of additional salt. Cover the fish except for the head and tail in additional salt mixture. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove salt and skin- table side for a show stealer.

Trout Baked in Newspaper

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Baking in Newspaper

Trout baked in newspaper is from a BBC cooking show. The woman of the house, who has her own trout pond favors this method, because the newspaper retains the smell and the mess of the fish.

Use whole trout with head, gutted. Season cavity with sea salt. Place trout individually on a section of newspaper and fold the paper, making a packet of the fish. Wet paper thoroughly under the faucet. Bake for 20 minutes. The fish is done when the paper is dry. The skin peels away with the paper!

Marinated Baked Fish

Cod marinated in soy, teriyaki, garlic, and ginger, then baked in the oven

Cod marinated in soy, teriyaki, garlic, and ginger, then baked in the oven

Marinated and Baked Method

This video is from Expert Village. If you are familiar with them, you’ll know that they break things into short chunks. This means that sometimes there may be a half dozen or more videos for one project: A two minute video on washing and preparing the fish. A two-minute video on gathering your other ingredients. You get the picture.

The basics of how to bake fish are here, but the preparation of the marinate is on another video. I have had good luck with some of the bottled marinades. There are about as many choices now as there are bottled salad dressings. I like the Ginger Teriyaki marinade and the Caribbean Jerk marinade.

My favorite is probably cod with a marinade of equal parts soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and water. Throw in some garlic and ginger. I use the squeeze tube or small frozen blocks. I like it with rice drizzled with a little soy or teriyaki.


  1. Marinate boneless fish filets in a marinade of your choice for 30 minutes.
  2. Transfer fish to your baking dish. Add a small amount of the marinade.
  3. Bake at 350º for about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness and type of fish.

Fish Baked in Parchment

Baked in Parchment with Vegetables

This method is said to be suitable for any seafood and soft vegetables, such as zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and canned artichokes. I think tender crisp vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, and onions would also work.


  1. Start with two layers of parchment paper, about 18” X 18”. Place fish filet or small fish on parchment paper.
  2. Season fish as desired with salt and pepper.
  3. Place vegetables on top of fish. Season with salt, pepper, and herbs such as rosemary.
  4. Fold parchment paper around fish and vegetables lengthwise, then fold each end and crease paper.
  5. Open paper and add a couple tablespoons of wine or broth, then refold paper. The pre-folding helps contain the liquid.
  6. Bake at 450º for 10 to 15 minutes.

Cedar Plank Salmon on the Grill

Cedar Plank Salmon

You can now get cedar planks in for baking fish in many stores, and certainly at high end grocery stores. Soak the plank in water, then pat dry, and brush with sesame oil. Season thick salmon filet with salt and pepper, and place on plank.

Prepare glaze by whisking together mayonnaise, miso, sugar, and lemon zest. Alternatively, whisk together mustard and brown sugar. Add dill. Spread glaze over salmon.

Grilling is done by indirect heat. If your grill has two heating burner elements, place plank with salmon on one side, and leave the element turned off. Turn the other side on. If your grill has three elements, turn the outer two on, leave the middle element off and place the plank in the middle. Cook 25 minutes.

Blackened Fish

Blackened Tuna, one of my favorites

Blackened Tuna, one of my favorites

Blackened Fish

This version of blackened fish is done with sea bass filets outside on the grill, on a heating element similar to an electric stove. The chef explains that this is because of all the smoke put out by the high temperature of the pan.

Heat a cast iron skillet or griddle on grill side burner for about 10 to 20 minutes. Do not add oil. Dredge fish filets, about ½” thick, in melted butter and sprinkle with Cajun spice. For milder flavor, use paprika.

Place filets on hot skillet. There will be lots of smoke. According to the chef in the video, the heat from the pan “lifts” the filets off the pan, and the butter provides additional protection to keep the filets from sticking. Use a medal spatula to push firmly under each filet to turn. The filets should be nicely blackened.

I have prepared blackened tuna Paul Prudhomme blackening seasoning a few times inside on the stove, using the hood vent. I use less intense heat, and a non-stick pan.

Fish Kebabs



  • 2 lemons
  • Bay leaves
  • Green olives
  • Olive oil
  • Medium firm fish


  1. Using a peeler, prepare long thick slices of peel from two lemons.
  2. Wash and dry fresh bay leaves. I did not have fresh leaves, so I soaked them in water so they wouldn’t be brittle.
  3. Wash and cut a medium textured fish into cubes. Coat fish cubes in oil.
  4. Alternate lemon peel, fish cubes, bay leaves and green olives on skewers.
  5. Drizzle with olive oil.
  6. Grill until fish is opaque.
  7. Sauté cherry tomato halves in a skillet in olive oil, cut side down.
  8. Serve kebabs over warm tomatoes and fresh basil.

Grilled Sea Bass

Grilled Whole Sea Bass

This video is for grilling sea bass with Mediterranean, but they note that red snapper works well too.


  • 3 T EVOO
  • 1 tsp chopped oregano
  • Sprigs of oregano
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Slices of lemon
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp salt


  1. Preheat grill to medium heat.
  2. Measure 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into a baking dish.
  3. Add 1 tsp chopped oregano, lemon zest, lemon juice, coriander and salt, and mix to combine.
  4. Using kitchen shears, cut all fins off gutted fish, but leave head.
  5. Make 3 diagonal slashes on each side.
  6. Season fish inside and outside with salt.
  7. Place lemon slices and sprigs of oregano inside the cavity.
  8. Put in baking dish, and rub or brush seasoned oil and lemon mixture on both sides.
  9. Let stand for 15 minutes.
  10. Coat grill with oil.
  11. Place fish on hot grill rack on medium heat.
  12. Grill covered 12-14 minutes, until opaque.

Deep Fried Whole Catfish

Pan Fried and Deep Fried

When I was growing up, we had “fish fries” with friends and relatives fairly often. We’re talking freshwater fish that someone in the family caught, not something you buy at the grocery store. These fish were sometimes cut into smaller pieces, but were often whole fried bream, crappie, black bass, or catfish.

Here’s our method:

  1. Place rinsed wet fish into a flour and cornmeal mixture.
  2. Place in hot skillet with about ½” of hot oil, or in a deep fryer.
  3. Fry until done. Cooking time depends on the thickness and type of fish.

I had a hard time finding a video of this! The video included here is of a Catholic church in St. Louis that has a huge fish fry every Friday during Lent. They serve whole catfish, prepared in a deep fryer. The fish fry part is about 5 minutes into the video.

Preparing Batter for Fish

Battering and Frying the Fish

Battered and Beer-Battered and Fried

Unlike the lightly dusted whole fried fish I grew up with, batter fried fish is a fish filet with a thick batter. This is the kind of fish you might have as “fish and chips”.

This is another video series from Expert Village. The first video demonstrates how to prepare the batter. Combine all purpose flour, eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Combine with a whisk. Add additional spices as desired. Add about a tablespoon of oil. Some people like to add beer to the batter. Obviously you would need to reduce the milk. You can also buy batter mixes, like tempura mix.

Heat oil an inch or more deep to about 350º in a skillet or cast iron Dutch oven. Coat fish filets in batter. Deep fry filets about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towel or bread.

Indian Style Fried Fish

Fried Indian Style

This technique of pan frying fish utilizes catfish, cut crosswise into ½” thick rounds, similar to cuts of salmon, although the chef notes freshwater bass or kingfish, or river sole is also suitable. Wash fish and pat dry.

Prepare marinade with curry leaves, cilantro, red chili powder, coriander powder, chopped green chilies, turmeric, oil, salt, ginger-garlic paste, and lemon juice. Combine thoroughly.

Marinate fish for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from marinade, then dredge in flour. Pan fry with no additional oil over medium heat, about 7 to 8 minutes. Fish should easily push away from the bone with a spoon end.

Brazilian Fish Stew

Moqueca Brazilian Fish Stew

Moqueca Brazilian Fish Stew

Brazilian Fish Stew

Brazilian style fish stew with Maqueca sauce, is suitable for most any fish or seafood, but dense fish works best. The chef suggests monkfish tails, red snapper or swordfish. In the demonstration, he uses swordfish.

Blanch and remove the skin of 6 tomatoes, then chop tomatoes. Cut large onion and red pepper into rounds. Chop one chili pepper and fresh cilantro. Add oil to pan. Heat and add onions to “sweat”. Chop garlic and add to onions. Then add chopped chili pepper, red pepper, and tomatoes. Next add shrimp stock and tomato paste. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes.

Slice fish into chunks and add to sauce. Simmer 5 to 6 minutes. Add ½ can of coconut milk for an “Afro Brazilian” taste. Add about one tablespoon of Dendé oil, which is essentially palm oil, popular in Caribbean cooking. Palm oil, like coconut oil gets mixed press, but hey, it’s only a tablespoon.

Garnish stew with cilantro. Serve with white rice. For more info, go to

Healthy Fish Stew

Healthy Stew

This fish stew from Healthy Heritage Kitchen Chef Wilbert Jones is offered as a gumbo alternative, loaded with vegetables. Peppers are used here, but you could use most any seasonal vegetables, such as squash. The ingredient list is published at the end of the video, but I have transcribed here. It is slightly different from what the chef actually did.


  • 1 c chopped onion
  • 1 T chopped garlic
  • ½ c green bell pepper
  • ½ c yellow bell pepper
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 c chopped tomatoes
  • 1 T sugar
  • ½ c white wine
  • 1 c broth
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ½ lb salmon, cut in 1” cubes
  • ½ lb halibut, cut in 1” cubes
  • 1 tsp lemon peel
  • 1 T finely minced parsley


  1. Chop onions, garlic, and red, yellow, and green bell peppers. I used half of a 22 oz bag of rough cut red, yellow, and green bell peppers, with onion, by PickSweet that I bought at Walmart.
  2. Sauté vegetables in olive oil (I used coconut oil) in a hot Dutch oven pot for 3 to 5 minutes to soften.
  3. Add chopped tomatoes, and one tablespoon of sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. I had about 1 ½ cups chopped fresh tomatoes, and 1 can diced tomatoes, drained.
  4. Add chicken or vegetable broth and dry white wine. I also added 1 large chopped yellow squash at this point. The wine smelled so good!
  5. Finally, add favorite herbs, such as thyme. I added about 1/4 to ½ tsp dried thyme. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.
  6. Add cubed salmon and raw shrimp to stew. I had about 8 oz of salmon and 4 oz cod.
  7. Cover and simmer 10 to 12 minutes. I had 12 oz of frozen, pre-cooked shrimp. I rinsed them, and added after the 10-12 min, and cooked another 5-7 minutes.
  8. Serve as is, or with rice or pasta. I served with leftover rice from Chinese delivery.

This stew was incredibly good. I sent some home with a friend, and her partner liked it so much he made her call me right away to tell me.

Malaysian Fish Chowder

Malaysian Fish Chowder

This chowder is very similar to my family’s salmon stew. Start by boiling water. Add fish cubes. Remove fish when done, and reserve stock. Sauté chopped onions in oil in pan. Add diced potatoes and fish stock. Add salt and pepper and cook until it thickens. Lower heat and add cream. Lastly, add butter and fish cubes.

Here are a few videos by outdoorsmen and women, showing you how to prepare fish “in the wild”. There is an appeal to the idea catching the fish, cooking them, and eating them inside of an hour or two, don’t you think?

Cook Trout on Coals

Cooking Directly on Campfire Coals

  1. Prepare a fire pit, about 24” in diameter. Start with 1” to 1 ½” diameter twigs such as fir, pine, or willow.
  2. Let the coals burn down, with about 2” to 3” deep in coals, about 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Clean and gut fish such as trout, leaving heads on. No need to scale. The scales will protect the flesh from burning.
  4. Spread out coals. Place fish directly on coals. The skins will burn.
  5. The guy in the video says to cook 10 minutes on each side, which seems way too long for such a small fish. Other sources say 3-7 minutes, depending on the size of the fish.
  6. Lift fish off of coals with a forked branch. Place on grassy area.
  7. Remove skin and bones, and enjoy.

Fish on a Spit

Cooking On A Spit

Prepare fire pit in the ground. Make two spikes from branches, resembling sling shots or Ys. Place in the ground, V-side