If you’ve ever gotten frustrated with fish skin that sticks and breaks when you attempt to flip, you aren’t alone. Luckily, there are a few quick and easy ways to eliminate these issues and pan sear like a professional. Follow these tips for perfectly seared fish that yields a delightfully crispy exterior and a flaky, delicious center.
#1 Pat the fish dry first.
Before you ever add any seasoning or fats/oils to your fish, pat the fish dry with a paper towel or a clean kitchen towel. If you want to take it one step further, arrange the fish on a plate and stick in the refrigerator (uncovered) for one hour prior to cooking. This isn’t necessary, but it can help the fish obtain a good sear.
#2 Consider your tools.
Using a nicely seasoned cast iron pan or grill is going to give you the best, most clean sear. Avoid nonstick pans altogether — they are notoriously unreliable for pan searing fish.
#3 Get the surface temperature up before putting the fish on.
One critical step in a well-seared fish is making sure the pan is hot enough! Set your pan over medium-high heat for two minutes before any fish goes in.
#4 Use the right oil.
To get that perfect sear, use an oil that can withstand high heat. Go for an oil with a high smoke point — which is the maximum temperature the oil can withstand without burning — like avocado oil, grapeseed oil, or vegetable oil. Otherwise, you risk gaining an unwelcome burnt taste in your fish.
#5 Flip your fish with care!
For this crucial step, you need the right tool for the job. A thin metal fish spatula is best for flipping fish. These are typically more springy than a regular spatula, and can slide under fish easily.
Don’t forget: The very first step in sensational pan seared fish is getting the highest quality ingredients available. We have you covered in that department!