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Different Ways of Cooking Fish

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As a certified health and wellness coach, I love discussing food, health benefits, and how to keep weight in check.

Fish can be delicious!

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What’s for dinner? Fish? Probably not…..Americans eat only 15 pounds of fish per person each year, way behind Asia which accounts for two-thirds of the world’s fish consumption. Why is that? Granted that fish can be “fishy” (for lack of a better word) and that maybe the reason why most people bypass the fish aisle and head for the meat section, still, there are compelling reasons to make fish part of the healthy diet. According to the Washington State Department, where fish is an important cultural icon, fish is a natural and excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, especially fatty fish such as salmon, trout, tuna, sardines and sea brass. Fish is also high in protein, low in fat and a good source of riboflavin, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and potassium. It is so healthy that the American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish each week to prevent heart disease, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Did those health facts bait you?

If they did and you are looking for ways to include fish in your diet or looking for ways to make fish more delicious (and therefore easier on your palette), this is the hub for you. There are many different ways to prepare fish, and even more varieties of fish on the market, there is no room for boredom here. But before we discuss the different ways of cooking fish, let’s look at some fish basics.

Cooking Times

Govern a great nation as you would cook a small fish. Do not overdo it.

Lao Tzu

You can say that fish is the original fast food. The average cooking time is 10 to 12 minutes and here’s why. Fish has very little connective tissue and fat and tends to cook faster than beef or chicken. The proteins found in fish will coagulate under heat and cause the fish to turn opaque, the tell-tale sign that the fish is cooked. If you’re unsure, use a fork or knife and insert it into the thickest part of the fish, it should flake easily. If you rather go with a guide, here are the typical cooking times:

  • 10 minutes for every inch of fish
  • 5 minutes for every inch of fish cooked in sauce
  • 20 minutes per inch if the fish is frozen

Health Benefits of Fish

Numerous studies show that Omega-3 fatty acids:

· decrease heart disease

· reduce blood pressure

· help prevent arthritis

· help prevent abnormal heart rhythms

. promote healthy brain function

Marinating Fish

Marinating fish can impart a richer flavor and helps to keep the fish moist. However, over-marinating it, especially with acidic seasonings can cause it to become mushy when cooked. As a general rule, if you use acidic ingredients, marinate for no more than 30 minutes. Richer flesh of fish such as salmon and tuna can be marinated for about an hour.

Just what do you use to marinade fish? Salt, pepper and oil are basic. You can also use fresh herbs, dried seasonings, fish rub, lemon juice, vinegar, wine or chopped tomatoes and chilies. Or you can get as creative as your fancy takes you.

Now, that we’ve covered the basics, let’s explore the different ways of cooking fish

Baking Fish

Baking refers to the use of dry heat.  It is perhaps the easiest and simplest way to ensure a healthy meal without fuss and hassle. All you need is an oven set to required temperature, anywhere from 350 degrees Fahrenheit to 450 degree Fahrenheit, depending on recipes.

Basic rules to remember:

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  • Grease baking pan or cook wear
  • Place fish in greased pan and brush with melted butter or oil.
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Add other seasoning ingredients if desired: fresh herbs, dried seasonings, lemon juice or white wine.
  • If you’re stuffing fish, make sure it is only two-thirds full.
  • Bake for required time and serve hot with or without sauce.

Baked Tilapia with scallion and tofu

I baked tilapia with scallion,ginger and tofu.

I baked tilapia with scallion,ginger and tofu.

Grilling Fish

Nothing beats the flavor of grilled fish. Just fire up the grill and make sure it is very hot. The high heat will help to seal the juice. However, not all fish lend themselves to grilling. Thick steaks of tuna, swordfish, mahi-mahi and salmon will not slide through the grate and will grill well. Just pat fish with oil and add desired seasoning and placed on grill. Watch video for more detailed instruction.

Whole fish works well too. But that’s not to say that you can’t grill the daintier fillets such as sole, catfish, flounder and tilapia. You can choose to wrap them in foil or use a wire fish basket.

Using foil packets to grill fragile fillets have its advantages. You can add vegetables and potatoes to fish and make it a complete meal in itself. Another bonus—your grill will be clean and clean-up will therefore be a breeze.  Alternatively, you can cook tender fillets on wood planks. Lay fish on pre-soaked plank, cover and grill. There are a variety of wood planks available: Alder wood, cedar, hickory, maple wood, mesquite or oak. The distinctive flavors of these hard woods will give the fish a distinctive smoky flavor.

How to Grill Fish

Poaching Fish

Poach generally goes with egg by association but you can also poach fish as well.  The art of poaching fish is relatively simple and since poaching requires little or no oil, the health barometer goes up.

Poaching works on the principle of simmering food in relatively low temperature, anywhere between 160 to 185 degree Fahrenheit. What you add to the liquid will give the fish a distinctive flavor.


  • Bring water or broth to a boil and then lower heat, so it simmers.
  • Flavor liquid with wine, vinegar, cider, milk, court bouillon.
  • Add seasonings, herbs, or vegetables.
  • Add fish and cook until opaque.
  • Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Art of Poachng Fish

Steaming whole fish.

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courtesy of

Steaming Fish from Chinese Cook Expert

Steaming Fish

In Asia, steaming whole fish is very popular. The whole fish is cleaned and lightly salted. It is often top with ginger, scallion and sometimes tofu or tomatoes. Of course, you can get fancy and use whatever you desire: shitake mushroom, preserved plums, nappa cabbage. Often a basic seasoning of soya sauce, sesame oil, salt, pepper, Hsaosing wine and sugar (optional) is mixed and then drizzle over the fish.

A bamboo steamer is often used, though you can also put a steaming rack on the wok and convert it into a steamer. Make sure the water is bubbling hard before you place your dish of fish inside. The process is fast and the fish is done in 15 to 20 minutes.

My mother likes to steam smaller fish in the rice cooker. She would place the plate of fish into the rice cooker when the rice is about 8 minutes from being done. Once the rice is done, she allows the fish to sit inside for another 5 minutes. Imagine—you can have your rice and fish at the same time and it takes no more than 20 minutes total.

There are so many ways to prepare fish that it is not possible for cover them all in this hub, for fear that some of you may fall asleep. So, for those of you who are still awake and wanting more, here are even more ways:

  • Pan-fried
  • Broil
  • Stir-fry (usually fish is sliced or cut into chunks)
  • Deep-fried
  • En Papillote (encased in parchment paper or foil)

For more fish cooking techniques

Interesting Ways of Eating Fish

 In cultures where fish features prominently in the diet, fish has been used in many creative ways. The Japanese developed a whole cuisine around raw fish and gave sushi to the world. The Jewish people have a close affinity with Gelfite fish. In Southeast Asia, anchovies are deep fried, seasoned with exotic spices and eaten as a snack. In Singapore, this same light snack is also commonly served as a light appetizer in restaurant before the food proper comes. Then there is fish paste (fish blended with an assortment of seasonings, herbs and some flour) and then shaped into balls (fish balls), patties (fish cakes) or it is cleverly used to stuff vegetables such as fresh chilies, eggplants, okra, hard tofu, soya bean skins or bell peppers. Totally ingenious and delicious.

So, it is befitting that I end this hub with a fishball making video.

Making fish balls

Other food hubs:

Try green curry

Chinese Herbal Chicken Soup

Singapore Girl Makes Singapore Noodles

How to make the best Beef Rendang

Saffron from the beautiful Crocus flower

Spice up your life with red chili pepper

The Art of Poaching

Horseradish: A condiment with a kick

Curry: A blend of spices


anglnwu (author) on March 09, 2015:

Noncopybook, no, I'm not vegetarian. Firm tofu can be used in the same way to replace fish. Thanks for reading.

Nicholas Daly from NSW Australia on March 02, 2015:

Ah re my question on my other post- perhaps you are not vegetarian haha.. There's the answer! Liking your other plant-based recipes - cheers

anglnwu (author) on February 29, 2012:

thanks, rose ann, glad you find it useful!

anglnwu (author) on February 27, 2012:

vespawoolf, good to see you here. There are so many ways to make fish delicious. Thanks for dropping by to comment.

rose ann and bong bong on February 27, 2012:

sobrang ganda at marami akong natutunan kaming dalawa ng bf ko

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on February 24, 2012:

I have bookmarked this informative and interesting hub. We have been eating more fish for health reasons. Just yesterday I purchased a fresh sole, had it filleted and sauteed it in a pan. I've been looking for new ideas so it looks like I've come to the right place!

anglnwu (author) on October 04, 2010:

Gordon Hamilton, thanks for dropping by with your wonderful comments. Glad you find ideas here to cook fish. Enjoy your fish!

Gordon Hamilton from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on October 04, 2010:

Wow, what an absolutely fantastic Hub. I love eating fish of many different types and preparing and cooking it in a great many different ways. The only problem here is that you have given me so many wonderful ideas, I can't begin to decide which ones to try first! :)

anglnwu (author) on July 19, 2010:

Thanks, yusuf momin!

yusuf momin on July 18, 2010:

good recipes

anglnwu (author) on June 16, 2010:

Maita, Lau Tsu is one wise man--his fish quote makes so much sense. Thanks!

prettydarkhorse from US on June 16, 2010:

You got me by Lau Tsu really and I love fish, tilapia is the best, rated it up again, Maita

anglnwu (author) on June 14, 2010:

Lelanew, thanks for rating it up and I love it when you stopped by to share your thoughts.

anglnwu (author) on June 14, 2010:

Om, hehe--my fishy hub is also fishy on another level--it's guilty of "poaching" your fish hub for one of the links. Did u catch that? Thanks for dropping by and glad you enjoyed the read.

lelanew55 on June 14, 2010:

Anglnwu great hub on cooking fish. I learned a lot about different ways of cooking fish. Rated it up. Thanks.

Om Paramapoonya on June 13, 2010:

What a fishy hub! Hehe just kidding. I enjoyed reading this very much. The videos are very interesting as well. :)

anglnwu (author) on June 13, 2010:

ReuVera, i could certainly use a supporter like you! Try steaming fish, not oily or greasy and you can simply lay it on top of a rack over your rice as it is being cooked. And I always burn a candle after I cook fish. We certainly don't want our house to smell like the fish market or like we have fisherman wharf in our family room.

I would love to try your home-made Gefilter fish. I love my Gelfilter fish with horseradish. Thanks again and many hugs!

anglnwu (author) on June 13, 2010:

Katrinasui, thanks for your comments. Yes to fish!

ReuVera from USA on June 13, 2010:

You are quite an expert! Your hubs are amazing, I wish I could rate every hub up again and again every time I come back to read them.

I love fish and eat it every time I have an opportunity. When eating out, I always order smoked salmon or broiled fish. I don't really love to cook it (and if I do, I always bake it, as I don't like the smell of a fish that's being fried).

Oh, and almost forgot! I make Gefilter Fish my own way, super delicious.... But I prefer stuffing Carp, and I can't find carp in my neck of the woods (or the lakes, LOL)..... so, I don't do it here....

katrinasui on June 13, 2010:

Excellent Hub. I love fish and it is always great to cook it by using different ways.

anglnwu (author) on June 13, 2010:

Habee, yes, I can tell you love fish. If you haven't notice, I put a link in this hub under varieties of fish to your fabulous fish hub. Thanks!

anglnwu (author) on June 13, 2010:

My lovely Jia Yu girl, we know what we're having for dinner. You're definitely on the right track, eating fish almost everyday. We've got big plans,so we better keep our bodies healthy by eating healthy food. As always, thank you SO MUCH for your continual support. Hub life would be boring without you around!

anglnwu (author) on June 13, 2010:

Thanks, Pamela, for rating it up. Agreed, fish is low-fat and when it's fatty, it's the good kind of fat. What a gift of nature!

anglnwu (author) on June 13, 2010:

Money, I love it when you dropped by with your precious comments. LOL on your fish eating. You can very well live in Singapore--we eat fish everyday! I'm with you in terms of meat--i prefer white meat.

Once again, appreciate your generous support and have a great day.

Holle Abee from Georgia on June 13, 2010:

We love fish and cook it often, as you know from my hubs!

Shari from New York, NY on June 13, 2010:

Anginwu - you are truly a girl of my own heart. I can eat fish just about every night! And as always you give me the best ideas - well thought out and presented in only the way you can:) Loved this Hub. .but that is no surprise! So we can make fish as we write our book in Sept:)))))

Rated up, useful and of course AWESOME!


Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 13, 2010:

Anginwu, This is a great hub as you listed so many different ways to cook fish. I really like fish and I love that is low calorie if you cook it that way. Rated up!

Money Glitch from Texas on June 13, 2010:

Excellent job! Interesting statistics on the amount of fish that Americans eat per year, which is probably true because some people only have fish on Fridays. I estimate however, that I eat enough for two people. LOL!

My diet consists of chicken, fish, and turkey. And now that I've read the health benefits, I'll probably be eating more fish. Rating up!

anglnwu (author) on June 12, 2010:

So good to see u again, Habby. I'm glad you like it. There are so many ways to cook fish, it's quite a versatile meat. Thanks for dropping by.

Habby from College Station, Texas on June 12, 2010:

Okay, i had no idea how many ways there are to cook fish, and I am a big fan of fish. I try to have one meal a week be some kind of fish. You have definitely given me some great ideas!!

Also, I really like the layout of this hub. It's attractive and easy to follow! Bravo, anglnwu!!!

anglnwu (author) on June 12, 2010:

Putz, thanks for your kind comments.

Putz Ballard on June 12, 2010:

Excellent hub! Darn you went and made me hungry.

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