Chef in chef outfit plating a fish entree with fresh ingredients

The ins and outs of preparing and cooking local fish

Your guide to cooking with fish

If you’re reading this magazine, you’re probably well-versed in the local seafood delicacies. However, there are certain nuances that chefs know that you may not. There are so many fish to keep track of here. Which ones are better grilled? Which need sauces? Is simple really better? We asked Redfish Chef Melissa Coocran to share her top tips for cooking fish, and we weren’t disappointed. Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of preparing and cooking local fish.

Don’t dismiss the obvious

Obviously, the easiest thing to do is to go out to eat and let a professional chef prepare fish for you. Local restaurants, like Redfish, have access to the freshest available, as they have long-standing relationships with fishmongers who only send the best. However, if you are cooking local fish at home, certain types of fish are better suited for different types of cooking methods. 

Grilled fish with lemon and spices

Just grillin’

Mahi, swordfish, wahoo and cobia are great for the grill and best kept simple by placing them on a hot grill and seasoning them with salt, pepper and cajun spices. Nothing accompanies grilled fish better than an herb butter like lemon-roasted garlic, dill-mustard and cilantro lime. Chef Coocran finds that salsas are also a great complement to grilled fish. She recommends fruit salsa made with pineapple, mango, melon or avocado.  

grouper fillet fried in the pan

Flaky isn’t a bad thing

Flaky white fillets like grouper, snapper, golden tile or flounder are more suited for pan sautéeing. Make sure your pan is hot and steaming. The fish should start to sizzle when you place it cut side down. For seasoning Chef Coocran likes to use salt, pepper and sometimes some Old Bay. Once you’ve seasoned the fish, let it get a crusty layer and then flip. To check to see when it’s done, pierce the flesh with a paring knife, and if there is no resistance, then it is done. Chef Coocran likes to cut the fillets into slices using a bias cut. This will ensure there is more surface area, and all of the fillets will cook evenly. For sauces, mayonnaise-based sauces are great for white flesh fillets. She recommends remoulade, tartar or chipotle ranch.

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