Pan-fried

Pan-fried

By
Nathan Outlaw
Contains
6 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
9781849493727
Photographer
David Loftus

This is probably the most common of all seafood cooking techniques, but is also the most abused. The history of fish cooking is littered with overcooked pan-fried fish! Not surprisingly perhaps, it is so easily done.

It takes no time to pan-fry a fillet of fish, so make sure you have everything else – sauce, garnishes and accompaniments – prepared before you begin and don’t start cooking until your guests are ready to eat. Another potential pitfall is to fry your fish in a pan that is too hot – you need a medium rather than a high heat.

Nowadays there is a variety of pans to choose from, including cast-iron, stainless steel and ceramic, with or without a nonstick surface. For me, a good-quality nonstick pan is the way to go. Buy the best you can afford – a good-quality non-stick pan is a pleasure to use and will last a lot longer.

Fish fillets, with skin, lend themselves well to pan-frying. Always do most of the cooking on the skin side, as this acts as a protective layer, keeping the flesh moist and succulent. If you’re pan-frying skinless fillets, you’ll need to be very careful. Thin fillets, in particular, will dry out quickly in a hot pan and are really better steamed or grilled briefly.

The most important stage of pan-frying for me is when you turn the fish over. I fry the fish fillets skin side down until the flesh is still slightly opaque in the middle, then turn off the heat and turn the fish over so the skin side is uppermost. There is no need to turn the heat back on – the fish will finish off cooking in the residual heat of the pan. This slow finish of the cooking will give you time to plate up your garnish, sauce and any accompaniments.

The other great thing about pan-frying is all the lovely juices and oils that are released by the fish as you cook it. Once you’ve removed the seafood, add a splash of wine to the pan to deglaze it, stirring to lift all that flavour in the sediment. Now add a few softened shallots and a touch of cream, simmer for a minute, then add some herbs and there you have it – a simple pan sauce.

What I like most about pan-frying is the speed and convenience. Scallops, squid and most fillets of fish will cook in minutes in a frying pan – quicker than any microwave meal would take to heat up. If you have a good fishmonger or other source of seafood available to you, pan-frying allows you to rustle up a seafood lunch or dinner in next to no time.

Best seafood to pan-fry

Scallops, bream (all types), grey mullet, hake, gurnard, haddock, John Dory, red mullet, squid, scampi.

Accompaniments and garnishes

Tomato and anchovy (or olive) dressing, herb mayonnaise, sautéed mushrooms with garlic and parsley, crushed peas, broad beans and mint, grilled peppers with thyme oil.

Recipes in this Chapter

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