As a rule, fish should be cooked approximately 10 minutes per inch at 350 degrees, based on the maximum thickness of the fish.
Steaks and thicker fillets should be turned halfway through the cooking time.
Pieces of fish less than 1/2" thick do not have to be turned.
Fillets should be placed skin side down. The skin will remove easily after cooking.
If fillets are rolled or stuffed, measure at the thickest point to determine cooking time.
The Food and Drug Administration recommends cooking most seafood to an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C). If you don't have a meat thermometer, there are other ways to determine if seafood is done:
For fish, slide the point of a sharp knife into the flesh and pull aside. The edges should be opaque and the center slightly translucent, with flakes beginning to separate. Let the fish stand 3 - 4 minutes to finish cooking. Check for doneness at the thickest part of the fish.
For shrimp, lobster and scallops, check color. Shrimp and lobster turn red and the flesh becomes pearly white. Scallops turn milky white or opaque, and firm.
For clams, mussels and oysters, watch for the point at which their shells open. That means they're done. Throw out those that stay closed.
The variety of fish available on the market today is rivaled only by the number of ways in which each can be prepared!
Whole fish, whole stuffed fish, fillets, stuffed fillets, steaks and chunks of fish may be baked. Use pieces of similar size for even cooking. It's best to bake fish in a preheated, 350° F oven following the 10-minute per inch rule; bake uncovered, basting if desired.
Steaks, whole fish, split whole fish and fillets lend themselves well to broiling. Place fish, one-inch thick or less, 2-4 inches from the heat source. Place thicker pieces 5 - 6 inches away. Baste frequently with an oil-based marinade. Using the 10-minute rule, cook on one side for half the total cooking time, basting once or twice, then turn the fish over to continue broiling and basting.
This technique lends itself well to meatier or steak fish such as salmon, halibut, swordfish, tuna and whole fish. Preheat an outdoor gas or electric grill. If using a barbecue grill, start the fire about 30 minutes before cooking. Let it burn until white hot then spread coals out in a single layer. Adjust the grill height to 4 to 6 inches above the heat.
To grill fish, a moderately hot fire is best for cooking seafood. Always start with a well oiled grid to prevent the delicate skin of the fish from sticking. For more delicate pieces of fish, a hinged, fish-shaped wire basket is recommended.
Baste steaks and fillets frequently while grilling to prevent them from drying out. Marinating fish an hour before grilling also helps keep it moist. Apply the 10-minute rule for proper doneness.
Use indirect heat for whole fish by banking hot coals on either side of the barbecue or preheat gas or electric grill. Oil fish well and place in an oiled fish basket. Cook, covered, 10 to 12 minutes per inch of thickness, turning halfway through cooking time.
Use a shallow dish to allow maximum exposure to the microwaves. Arrange fillets with the thicker parts pointing outward and the thinner parts, separated by pieces of wax or parchment paper, overlapping in the center of the dish. Cover dish with wax paper and vent by turning back one corner. Allow 3 minutes per pound of boneless fish cooked on high as a guide. Rotate the dish halfway through the cooking time. Rolled fillets microwave more evenly and are less likely to over-cook than flat fillets, which may have thin edges.
Poach fish in simmering liquid such as fish stock, water with aromatic herbs/vegetables, or a mixture of wine and water. In a large skillet, sauté pan or fish poacher, bring liquid to a boil. Add fish and return to boil. Reduce to a simmer-the liquid should barely bubble. Cover and begin timing fish according to the 10-minute rule. The remaining liquid may be used to make a sauce for fish if desired.
This is an excellent method for fillets and pan-dressed fish like trout, tilapia and catfish.
Tip: Dip the fish into seasoned flour, cornmeal or bread crumbs just before sautéing. Heat a small amount of olive oil or butter in a skillet large enough to hold the fish. When the pan is very hot, place the fish into the skillet. Sauté for half the total time as determined by the 10-minute rule, turn over and complete cooking.
Whole fish, chunks, steaks and stuffed fillets steam well. To steam fin fish, fill a large saucepan with 1” of water. Place fish on a steamer rack and place rack in pan. The water should not exceed the height of the rack. Cover tightly and bring the water to a boil. Using the 10-minute rule, steam until thoroughly cooked.
Fish for stir-frying should be firm-textured—monkfish, sea bass, shark, swordfish or tuna are all good choices. Shrimp and lobster also make excellent stir fry options. Stir-frying is a very fast technique, so it's important to have all ingredients in uniform size and ready for cooking.
Using a wok or large skillet, coat the bottom and sides with vegetable oil and heat to hot. Add fish and toss gently and constantly until fish is about three quarters cooked, approximately 2 - 4 minutes. Remove to a warm platter.
Stir-fry a selection of sliced vegetables (i.e. carrots, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms) in addition to a light sauce if desired. Return fish to the wok or skillet and cook one to two minutes more. Serve immediately.