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5 Tips for Pan Searing Fish Like a Pro

5 Tips for Pan Searing Fish Like a Pro

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!