A very chef-like way to cook fish is to pan fry with the skin on, blasting the skin until it is nice and crispy then finishing the cooking process off in the oven. Here’s how to do it…
To prepare the skin
Wipe this down with a paper towel and then run a knife across the skin to scrape off the last bits of water. If you know what direction the scales went, scrape the knife in the opposite direction to this. Wipe it off on a cloth and keep doing that three or four times, and then with a sharp knife, very finely score it because when skin hits oil, it curls up.
To cook it
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Pour some olive oil into a pan, add some salt to this, and heat until just before it reaches smoking point.
- Add the fish, skin side down. Place a clean pot gently on top of the fish fillet to flatten it down (it will start to curl up once the heat hits the connective tissue), lifting this off after about 30 seconds.
- Let the fish cook at the high temperature, skin side down, until the colour of the flesh changes. Resist the temptation to poke and prod it. You will see the white band [in the case of white flesh fish] where the flesh changes colour as it cooks.
- When the white band is 1-2cm, put the fish into a moderate oven, skin-side down, and cook for 4-6 minutes
- When you take it out of the oven, flip it so the flesh side gets a minute on the direct heat of the pan to get some colour, then serve it, skin side up.
- A stainless steel or black pan is best – the temperature gets quite high and you risk the coating peeling off a non-stick pan.
- A thick piece of barramundi might need to be oven baked for 6 minutes. Alternatively a big piece of ocean trout might only need 3 minutes.
- Cook your fish according to taste & portion size.
- Serve with blanched green beans and Serendip Ginger Chilli Shallot Sauce