Fish fall into several categories, each suiting particular cooking methods. The light white-fleshed fish, such us bream, flounder; whiting, john dory, mulloway, mahi mahi, snapper and perch are all best suited to frying or gentle baking. The darker, oilier fish with a stronger flavour, including kingfish, mullet, tuna and tailor, are better grilled, poached or braised.
Frying fish can be carried out by either two method: pan-frying, also known as shallow frying: and deep-frying, which is the style used in fish and chip shops. Both frying techniques are suited to most fish species. However, in pan-frying, the fish only needs a light dusting of flour before being placed gently into the hot cooking agent. In the case of deep-frying, the fish needs to be coated in batter or breadcrumbs to benefit from the oil saturation.
This is the method of cooking where the fish is either placed on a grill or placed under a griller. Grilling can be done on a BBQ; the severe form of heat from a BBQ is ideal for all fish. Delicate –fleshed fish benefit from a little basting with butter or oil. Darker, fattier types of fish grill well without added fats, but a squeeze of lemon and some pepper will enhance the flavour. When grilling fish, care must be taken not to overcook or dry out the fish and constant attention and basting with a little oil or butter will help. Leaving the skin on can also protect the flesh from drying out too quickly.
This is one of the simplest ways to cook a whole fish, particularly a large specimen. The fish should be buttered on the outside, laid on a baking tray with a little liquid in the bottom, and moistly baked.
In poaching, the cooking liquid is generally water, with an onion, bay leaf and clove added. The water should only just simmer. Poaching is a great way to cook a whole fish, which can be served hot or cold.
The fish are laid out on a rack over the water that must be boiled to maintain a constant temperature above 100 degrees C. Bamboo steamers are ideal or a colander sitting over a saucepan of water will do. A tight-fitting lid is required or enough aluminium foil to seal in the steam. This method of cooking is quite quick, and a fillet takes only a few minutes.
Braising is a cooing method generally done in a large pot or casserole dish with a lid, or a baking tray, which is later, covered with foil. The fish should be placed in the casserole, on a bed of vegetables, and barely covered with fish stock or wine, covered with a lid, and slowly simmered in the oven or over a very gentle heat on a stove, or on the hot coals of an open fire. In the oven, most fish will require slow cooking at 180 degrees C. for at least 1 hour. This method is best for fish that will improve with the addition of the subtle flavours of vegetables and wine.
This method was first employed to preserve fish, but the flavours imparted by the wood and smoke make fish cooked this way worth trying.
This is another way of preserving fish, but is also a way of imparting additional flavours to the flesh of what might normally be a bland-tasting fish. You can either use a liquid marinade (a mixture of oil, acid- vinegar, wine or citrus juice- and spices), in which the fish will soak for several hours prior to cooking, or a dry marinade, made up of salts, sugar and spices. The dry marinade mix is sprinkled heavily over the fish flesh, which needs to be turned regularly over a period of 48 hours. The result will be fish ready for eating, which has required no cooking.
Stock, Soup, Patties and Pies:
Good stock is made from good bones and fish off cuts, which must always be fresh. Pies and patties can be made from fresh uncooked fish pieces or from cooked leftovers. Simply by adding herbs and spices, and eggs and flour, you can make crumbled patties or pastry-topped pies, all great hot or cold for picnics or your next fishing trip.
Fresh fish flesh is usually translucent, becoming opaque or whitish when cooked. At this stage the flesh will flake along the muscle and release clear juice. Once cooked the fish should be served immediately. Remember, the flesh will continue to cook a little when removed from the heat, so always serve fish firm and juicy, not firm and dry.
Pan Fried Fish
|4 Fish fillets(skin on)
50g Plain Flour
60g Butter, melted
Oil, for cooking
1.Dry fillets with a paper towel and dust each one with flour. Holding the tip of the tail end, dip the floured fillet into the melted butter, making sure to coat both sides.
2.Heat a little oil in a frying pan. When hot, gently lay fillets skin-side down in pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fry gently over a low heat until the flesh is just firm. This will take 2-3 minutes. A lid can be placed over the pan for the last minute to ensure even cooking.
Pan Fried Tailor with Winter Salad
|4 large tailor fillets, skinned and boned
4 Large Roma tomatoes, quartered
2 Small purple onion, peeled and quartered
4 Cloves garlic, whole, unpeeled
Freshly cracked pepper
2 Teaspoons sugar
1 Cup canned cannelloni beans, drained
2 Tablespoons each of chopped fresh rosemary, basil and parsley
|1. Place tomatoes, onion and garlic in an oven proof pan.2. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
3. Sprinkle with pepper and sugar. Toss gently.
4. Bake in a hot oven (250C) for half an hour. Remove and cool to room temperature.
5. Squeeze garlic from skin, and chop finely.
6. Gently mix garlic, baked vegetables, beans and herbs.Cover and set aside.
7. Panfry tailor for 1 to 2 minutes each side in a little hot olive oil.8. Arrange fillets and salad together and serve.
Pan Fried Reef Fish with Avocado Salad
|4 fillets of reef fish (coral trout, sweet lip, parrotfish)
2 Ripe but firm avocado, diced
24 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 bunch coriander, roughly chopped
4 shallots, finely sliced
Juice of 2 limes
2 to 4 Tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
|1. Combine all salad ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until required.2. Panfry fillets in a little hot olive oil, 1 to 2 minutes each side.
3. Arrange salad on serving plates, and top with cooked fillets.Garnish with lime wedges and sprigs of coriander.
Deep Fried Fish
1 Cup of water or beer
1 Teaspoon olive oil
½ Teaspoon salt
½ Teaspoon pepper
1 Tablespoon cornflour
1 ½ Cups plain flour
|1. Beat the water and eggs and add the oil, salt and pepper. Gradually add the corn flour and plain flour, beating constantly as you do so. Let the batter sit for at least 1 hour before using.
2.When ready, heat the oil to 180-190 degrees C. Dry your fish fillets completely, dust them with flour and then dip them into the batter. Wipe any excess batter on the edge of the bowl. Gently and carefully slip the battered fish into the hot oil, taking care not to splash yourself.
3.Cook for between 5 and 10 minutes: 5 minutes for small fillets, 10 minutes for large, thicker fillets.
Beer Battered Cod with Horseradish Mayonnaise
|1/2 cup light sour cream
1/4 cup whole egg mayonnaise
2 tbs horseradish
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 tbs finely chopped fresh parsley
750g cod fillets
1 1/4 cups (185g) plain flour
1 egg yolk
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Rocket salad and lemon wedges, to serve
|1. Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, horseradish, zest and parsley in a bowl and then set aside.
2. Cut fish into bite-sized pieces and toss in 1/4 cup of the flour. Whisk egg yolk and beer together until well combined. Sift remaining flour over egg mixture and whisk to form a smooth batter. Dip floured fish into batter and allow excess to drip away. Deep fry in batches until golden.
3. Serve fish with rocket salad, lemon wedges and mayonnaise.
Crispy Skinned Snapper with Thai Chilli Drizzle
|4 Small snapper, cleaned and scaled (approximately 300 g to 400g each)
Canola oil for frying
½ Cup sweet chilli sauce
4 Teaspoons Thai fish sauce
4 Tablespoons Lime juice
4 Teaspoons chopped ginger
Sliced shallots and coriander leaves to serve
|1. Thoroughly dry snapper with a paper towel.2. Make 2 incisions on both sides of each snapper.
3. Rub snapper all over with salt.
4. Combine chilli sauce, fish sauce, limejuice and ginger.
5. Heat 10 cm of oil in a heavy based pan or wok (wide enough to fit snapper) till hot.
6. Carefully place snapper in hot oil and fry for 5 to 7 minutes.
7. Remove snapper from oil, drain briefly, and place on serving plate. Repeat with rest of fish.8. Scatter with coriander and shallots.Drizzle sauce over and around snapper.
Grilled Fish with Herb Butter
|4 Fish steaks or fillets
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Lemon sliced
150g butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives
1 Tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
|1.To make the herb butter, whisk the soft butter until creamy. Add all the other ingredients and mix until well blended. Roll like a sausage in foil and refrigerate until firm.
2. When ready to use, slice off in 25mm rounds and remove the foil.
3. Brush the fish with oil and place under a hot grill or on a hot BBQ. Baste fish with more oil as they begin to dry out. Turn over after 3 minutes, baste again and grill for 3 minutes more. (Time based on tuna steak)
4.Remove from heat, plate and place a slice of herb butter on top. Serve with lemon slices.
Peppered Mackerel with Olive Salsa
|4 mackerel steaks
Cracked black pepper
12 Green olives, flesh roughly chopped
12 Black olives, flesh roughly chopped
4 Tablespoons Pinenuts
4 Tablespoons sultanas
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
2 Small tomatoes, chopped
Dash each of oil and balsamic vinegar
|1. Combine all salsa ingredients and set aside.2. Pat cracked pepper over both sides of mackerel steaks.
3. Cook mackerel in lightly oiled pan or on BBQ plate for 4 to 5 minutes each side.
4. Serve mackerel with a spoonful of salsa, sprinkle with extra chopped parsley if desired.
Fish with Crunchy Camembert Topping
|4 White fish fillets, skin and bones removed
3 Tablespoons melted butter
2 bacon rashers, chopped
¼ Cup flaked almonds
2 Cups wholemeal breadcrumbs
2 x 125g Cans Camembert cheese
|1. Place fish in a single layer in ovenproof dish.2. Mix butter, bacon, almonds and breadcrumbs.
3. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
4. Remove rind from Camembert, cut cheese into thin slices. Place evenly over fish fillets.
5. Top with breadcrumb mixture6. Bake in oven for 20-22 minutes at 180 degrees or until fish is flaky and top is golden brown and crisp.
Trevally with Pineapple Salsa & Coconut Rice
|1 cup (200g) Sunrice long grain rice
1 cup (250ml) Trident coconut cream
1 whole Naturally Sweet Pineapple, skin and core removed
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves
1 small red chilli, finely sliced
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp Chang’s sesame oil
1 tbs Golden Fields peanut oil
4 (200g each) blue eye trevally/cod fillets
Salt & freshly ground pepper
Lime wedges, to serve
|1. Combine the rice , coconut cream and 1/2 cup (125ml) water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover. Simmer until almost all of the liquid has absorbed. Remove from the heat. Set aside, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
2. Cut the pine apple into 1cm cubes. Toss gently with the mint leaves, coriander leaves, chilli, lime juice, brown sugar and sesame oil. Set aside.
3. Heat the peanut oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper. Cook for 4 minutes
Baked Whole Fish
|1 whole fish, cleaned
4 Shallots, finely chopped
1 Cup dry white wine
2 Tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
2 Tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
|1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees C. Make a few cuts across the flesh with a knife, place in and ovenproof dish and season with salt and pepper.
2. Sprinkle the chopped shallots over the fish and add the wine. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and parsley over the fish and dot with butter.
3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
Whole Baked Snapper
|500g Whole snapper, cleaned
2/3 Cup Wholemeal breadcrumbs
¼ Cup chopped apricots
2 shallots, finely chopped
¼ Cup grated tasty cheese
2 Teaspoons chopped parsley
1 egg, lightly beaten
|1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.2. Combine breadcrumbs, apricots, shallots, cheese, parsley and egg together. Mix well.
3. Fill cavity of snapper with bread stuffing.
4. Shield head and tail of snapper with foil. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes at 180 degrees C. Turn over halfway through cooking.Serves 2.
Fish in Foil
|4 squares of aluminium foil (Large enough to wrap around fish)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 Small whole fish, cleaned
3 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
3 medium sized tomatoes, diced
1 Tablespoon finely chopped parsley
4 Bay leaves
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Brush one side of the foil squares with some olive oil. Place one fish on each piece of foil.
2. In a bowl, mix garlic, tomato and parsley together and season with salt and pepper. Spoon equal amounts onto each fish. Place a bay leaf on each seasoning mound and dribble the remaining oil over the top.
3. Wrap the foil so as to completely encase the fish and it’s seasonings. Place in a preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes or sit in the ashes of a fire for 5 to 10 minutes.
Other suggested ingredients: Fresh dill, herbs and spices, quartered lemons, limes and oranges, bacon rashers etc.
Steamed Fish with Baby Vegetables
|4 x 100g fish fillets or cutlets
300ml Fish stock
½ Teaspoon freshly chopped chives
½ Teaspoon freshly chopped dill
Selection of baby vegetables
|1. Quarter-fill a saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Place the fish fillets in a steamer or other perforated container, such as a colander, over the saucepan.
2. Fit lid, or cover with foil, and steam for about 3 minutes for fillets, 4 to 5 minutes for cutlets and 5 minutes for a whole small fish. The fish will cook thoroughly without turning. When the fish is cooked the flesh should be firm to touch. Carefully remove from the steamer.
3. In a small saucepan bring the fish stock to the boil and cook the baby vegetables in the hot stock. This will take a few minutes. Remove the vegetables from the stock and keep warm. Continue to boil the stock for a few minutes to reduce slightly. Add the cream, chives and dill to the fish stock and stir.
4. Place the fish on a plate, surround it with vegetables and spoon the sauce over the top.
Steamed Fish with Chinese Vegetables
|4 Thick fish fillets
4 Cups finely sliced vegetables (shallot, carrot, celery and capsicum)
4 Heaped teaspoons sliced lemon grass
2 Teaspoons chopped ginger
4 Cups vegetables stock / water
Indonesian sweet soy sauce (optional)
|1.Bring vegetables stock or water to the boil in a pan, reduce to simmer.2.Mix vegetables with lemon grass and ginger.
3.Place a piece of baking paper inside a steamer.
4.Add fish fillets and top with vegetables.
5.Place steamer over simmering stock.
6.Steam fish and vegetables for 8 to 10 minutes, till just cooked.
7.Remove fish to serving plate with vegetables and juices.8.Drizzle with Sweet soy sauce if desired.
|1 small to medium-sized fish (1/2 – 2 kg)
1 litre wine, water or fish stock (or combination)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Carrot, finely copped
1 Stick celery, finely sliced
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 Bay leaf
2 Sprigs of thyme
2 Sprigs of parsley
|1. To make the mirepoix, heat the olive oil in a pan until smoking hot. Toss in all the ingredients, remove from the heat and stir until the sizzling stops.
2. Spoon the cooked herbs and vegetables into the bottom of the dish being used to braise the fish.
3. Lay the fish on the bed of vegetables and add enough wine to almost cover the fish. Seal with a lid and simmer gently for 1 hour. The longer and slower the cooking, the more vegetable flavours will enhance the flavour of the fish.
|2 baking trays of equal size
1 Cake cooling rack
Sawdust (or wood chips)
Oil for basting
Herbs and spices
|1. Sprinkle a layer of sawdust over the bottom of a baking tray, sit the rack on the sawdust and lay the fish on the rack. Brush the fish with oil.2. Put the other baking tray upside down on top and place this little smoke house over a gentle flame or electric hotplate.
3. To maintain a steady source of smoke, the heat needs to be 80 to 90 degrees C. The smoking process can take 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. Fish should feel firm to the touch. Oil can be brushed on several times during the process to maintain moisture in a dry-fleshed fish. Herbs and spices in small quantities can be added to the smoking wood to impart flavour.
Sashimi Dipping Sauce
|2 Tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons peanut oil.
|1. Whisk together all ingredients.2. Cover and set aside for at least ½ an hour for flavours to develop.
3. Slice very fresh, well chilled, fillets of oily fish (tuna, mackerel, salmon, Wahoo or dart) into ½ cm wide pieces and serve with dipping sauce.
|1 Tablespoon sea salt
¾ Tablespoon sugar
½ Teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill, with stems
500g Fish fillet, with skin on
½ Tablespoon dill seed, coarsely chopped
|1. Mix the salt, sugar and pepper and rub the fish flesh with the mixture. Place one fish fillet flesh side up in steel or plastic container and sprinkle dill over the top. Lay next fillet on top of the other and repeat. Place the fish in the refrigerator for two days.2.Turn at least twice a day and baste with juices that are formed.
3.Cut fish in very thin slices, down onto the skin, and serve with coarse dark bread, like pumpernickel, and salad or pickled vegetables. An easy sauce of mustard- flavoured sour cream with mustard seeds is a wonderful accompaniment.
|1.5 kg Whole fish cleaned (gills and guts removed, but heads intact)
2.5 Litres Water
2 Sticks celery, sliced
2 medium-sized onions, sliced
2 medium-sized carrots, sliced
1 Teaspoon cracked peppercorns
½ Bottle dry white wine
|1. Bring all the ingredients to the boil and remove any scum that appears on the surface. Boil for 15 minutes. Do not boil for longer because bitterness will start to extrude from the fish bones.2. Strain the stock, return the liquid to the pot and bring to a simmer.
3. When the reserved meat and bones have cooled enough to handle, separate the flesh from the bones and return flesh to the liquid stock.
4.Continue to simmer until the liquid has been reduced by half. Strain and refrigerate or freeze until required. Do not season with salt or pepper at this stage.
|3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Large onion, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
3 Ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
750 ml Fish stock (or water)
1 kg Assorted Fish (including some shellfish such as mussels, prawns etc.)
|1. Heat the oil in a saucepan, toss in the garlic and onion and lightly sauté until clear, making sure not to brown.2. Add the lemon juice, tomato and water.
3. Break the fish into bite-size pieces and add to the saucepan. Do not add the shellfish at this stage. Simmer gently for 15 minutes.
4. Strain the liquid stock into a pot. Remove the flesh from the bones and skin and return it, with the vegetables, to the stock.
5. Now add the shellfish, simmer for 5 minutes, season and serve. This soup is delicious with toasted bread that has been rubbed with a raw garlic clove prior to toasting.
Baby Snapper Pie
1 Medium-sized onion, roughly chopped
1 medium-sized carrot, roughly chopped
3 Cups milk
Pinch of Nutmeg
200g Freshly chopped beans or peas
500g Cooked fish flesh, cur into bite-size pieces (leftovers are ideal)
1 Tablespoon white wine or cream (optional)
Puff pastry or 75g grated cheese
|1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add chopped onion. Sauté for a few minutes and add carrot. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir thoroughly, continuing to stir for a few minutes as the flour and vegetables cook. Do not allow the flour to burn.2. Pour in the milk and mix thoroughly. Lower the heat to simmer, stirring constantly until the milk has absorbed all the flour and the mixture has thickened. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Allow to cool.
3. In a saucepan, boil a little water and add beans or peas. Cook for 1or 2 minutes. Arrange the fish in the bottom of a pie dish and season with a little salt. Add lightly blanched greens and cover with vegetable mixture.
4. At this stage, you can either cover the vegetables with pastry or grated cheese. If using pastry, first paint the side of the pie dish with egg wash. Place a layer of puff pastry over the dish, press the edges into the dish with a fork and trim off the excess. Brush the top with a little beaten egg or milk. Prick some holes in the pastry with a fork, and place in a moderate oven about (180 degrees C.) and bake until crisp and golden. It will take 15 to 20 minutes.
5. If your preference is for a cheese topping, simple sprinkle the top of the vegetable mixture with grated cheese. Place in a moderate oven (about 180 degrees C.) and bake until the cheese has melted and turned golden brown. This takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
Old-Fashioned Fish Pie
|8 Thin fish fillets
1 Cup soft breadcrumbs
2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
½ Teaspoon dried mixed herbs
1 Teaspoon grated lemon rind
½ Cup cream
2 Medium tomatoes, peeled and sliced
3-4 Medium potatoes, mashed
1 Egg, beaten
Melted butter for glazing
|1. Arrange 4 fillets side by side in a shallow casserole dish.2. Combine breadcrumbs, parsley, butter, dried herbs, lemon rind and mix well.
3. Spread filling evenly over the 4 fillets. Arrange remaining fillets on top.
4. Arrange tomato slices over fish. Pour over cream.
5. Combine mashed potato and egg. Spread or pipe mixture over fish, brush with melted butter.
6. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until top is golden brown.
|2 Slices of stale white bread
500gm of minced Hake or other firm white fish
5 ml Crushed garlic
1 Onion grated
1 Firm ripe tomato, grated or finely chopped
2 ml Grated nutmeg
50ml Chopped, fresh parsley
2ml White pepper
400ml Sunflower oil
15ml Fish seasoning
200-250ml of dry breadcrumbs
|1. Soak bread in water for 5 minutes, then squeeze out all the moisture.2. Add to fish with remaining ingredients, except the oil, and mix to bind well.
3. Shape into patties and shallow-fry in medium hot oil for about 5 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned.
4. Serve hot with white rice. Serves 4.
|2kg Cod or Yellowtail fillets cut into portions
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Sprinkle of fish seasoning
125ml Sunflower oil
3 Large onions thinly sliced
200ml Brown vinegar
10ml Curry powder
15ml Fish seasoning
5ml Chilli powder
Small crushed mild chilli (optional)
5 Bay leaves
Salt to taste
|1. Season fish fillets with salt, pepper and fish seasoning.2. Heat oil in a deep frying pan and fry fish for 5 minutes on both sides until medium brown. Remove from oil and drain.
3. Sauce: In a saucepan cook onions until transparent then add sugar, vinegar and spices until well blended, 5-10 minutes. Add salt to taste.
4. Place drained fish slices in a deep dish and cover with onion mixture. Store covered for 24 hours before use to allow flavour to develop. Can be eaten for up to 7 days. Serve with buttered bread. Serves 4-6.
Acknowledgements: The Australian Fishing Companion & The Coastwatch Cookbook.