Cooking methods

There are many different methods of cooking seafood, and all of them have their strengths – some are quick, some are healthy, and some are just plain easy.

Below, we've summarised the four most popular methods of cooking fish - of course, if you're ever really in a hurry, many species of seafood can be cooked in the microwave, and fish and shellfish both make great additions to any barbecue.

Grilling

Grilling seals in the moisture, nutrients, and flavour of the fish - so it's no surprise that it's one of the most popular methods of cooking fish. Our top tips for grilling:

  • Be sure to baste the seafood during grilling, to prevent it from drying out.
  • Place fish skin-side up.
  • Score whole fish at the thickest part to enable the heat to penetrate.
  • Cooking time, on a medium heat, is usually between 8 and 10 minutes.

Grilling is fantastic with halibut steaks and fillets of fish with the skin still on. Small whole fish such as small mackerel, herring and sardines are also great for grilling.

Baking

Baking fish is perfect if you're looking for a way to cook your seafood along with other vegetables, herbs or spices. Our top tips for baking:

  • Fish can be baked either in an oven-proof dish or kitchen foil.
  • Fish doesn't benefit from high oven temperatures. Small whole fish, fillets, steaks and cutlets can be cooked for around 15-20 minutes at 200ºC/400ºF/gas mark 6. Large whole fish should be baked at 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4 for about 30-40 minutes.
  • Delicate whitefish should be coated with oil or butter before baking.

Baking is great with all kinds of fish, except shellfish. If you'd like to bake shellfish, it must be wrapped in kitchen foil first.

 

Poaching

 

Poaching is fantastic if you're looking for a way to cook your fish while keeping it moist and tender. Our top tips for poaching:

  • Poach your fish in water, milk, stock, wine, or cider.
  • Use the leftover poaching liquid to make a sauce for your fish.
  • Cook the seafood just below boiling point.
  • Poaching takes from 5 minutes, for cubes of fish, to 10-15 minutes.

Poaching works well with whitefish, such as cod fillets, turbot steaks and halibut. Whole fish including sole, sea bass, and smoked cod and haddock are also great for poaching.

 

Shallow frying

If you don't want to deep fry, shallow frying is probably the closest you'll get to chip shop fish 'n' chips - it's also a bit healthier. Our top tips for shallow frying:

  • Coat the fish thoroughly in batter or breadcrumbs to protect the flesh and stop the fish from absorbing too much fat.
  • Use seasonal flour and a small amount of oil for frying - just 2-3 tablespoons.
  • Shallow frying should take around 4-5 minutes, and the fish should be turned once.
  • Whitefish is fully cooked when its colour is an opaque white.

Shallow frying works well with all white flatfish, including both halibut and plaice.

For more details about cooking seafood, take a look through our useful guide, which covers even more cooking methods.