Saturday, November 14, 2009

The art of the crisp...

Although some tend to avoid it, cooking fish with the skin on gives it great flavor!  For me, the crispier the result the better.  Here are a few tips for getting that perfect crispy skin...

Choosing your fish

The fillet should look bright with translucent fresh. The skin should look moist and fresh. Never choose a fish that looks dry or has any cracks in the flesh. Fish should smell like it came from the ocean but should not have a sharp ‘fish smell.’

This is one reason it’s good to have a relationship with your fishmonger. He can always give you a good recommendation of what is fresh and a good buy.

Preparing your fish

Although the scales have been removed, ensure that the skin is totally free of any remainders by scraping it with the edge of a knife.

Thoroughly dry the skin and flesh with a kitchen towel or paper towel. Press any remaining water out of the skin by running the back of a knife against it, repeat this procedure until the knife is no longer collecting water. To draw out even more moisture and get that REALLY crispy result, pour sea salt onto plate and press fish into it skin side down. Leave for 15 or so minutes and repeat the procedure using the knife to remove collected moisture.

Score the skin with 1 inch long cuts diagonally along the length of the fillet about ½ an inch apart. This will prevent curling and keep the fillet flat in the pan. Season with salt and pepper. You’re now ready to cook the fillet!

Cooking your fish

I find it is best to sauté then roast in the oven; however, simply sautéing will do the trick just fine! Cover the base of your saucepan with olive oil and heat to medium high. Add the fish skin side down. You may want to weigh the fish down with a small plate to make sure skin is pressed into pan. Cook until the skin is golden and fish is starting turning from translucent to opaque, 2 or 3 minutes depending on thickness of fish. Turn the fish over and remove from the heat. Let the residual heat in pan finish cooking the fish. Serve the fillet skin side up with whatever accompaniments you like!

I topped my crispy-skin snapper with a mediterranean salsa of chopped tomatoes, red onion, basil, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. I served it with smashed potatoes and a salad of shaved fennel, rocket (arugula), and orange segments dressed with a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice. Delicious!

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