Perfectly Flaky Fried Fish
The deciding factor for the quality of any frying pan is this: can it fry a piece of fish to buttery, flaky perfection? Yes, there’s some cooking technique involved and the fish has to be fresh. But the catch of the day can quickly resemble a shredded brick of tofu with the wrong frying pan.
I received a frying pan from Mealthy to put to the “fish-fry test.” It’s a 10′ stainless steel, aluminum core skillet with a handle that conveniently stays cool while cooking (take note, cast iron). It’s not the fanciest skillet, but it’s budget-friendly and doesn’t cost $200. Here’s how it stood up to the fish-fry test…
The first step to cooking perfectly flaky fried fish is to know your stove. If you have a powerhouse gas stove like I do, your searing heat should probably be no higher than medium. Electric stoves, medium-high. I personally never cook anything on high heat, but if splattering grease is your thing, by all means go for it.
Once you’ve decoded your stovetop’s heat settings, it’s time to fry that fish! I use both butter and olive oil to fry. It’s a thing I learned from someone on Food Network–probably Giada. When you use both, the butter doesn’t burn and splatter like it does alone. Heat a pan until it’s good and hot. Brush fish with olive oil and butter, and then place it carefully in the pan. Use tongs to get the spacing right–once that fish hits the pan, it ain’t going anywhere for a while. If you accidentally space it out wrong, I guess you’re batch cooking.
With searing, you flip the fish when it stops sticking to the pan. With a bad pan, this may never happen, and cue the charred tofu block. Luckily, after about 3 minutes, this mahi-mahi was ready to flip! I cooked it another two minutes and removed it from the heat.
It looks nice in the pan, but did it flake?
Oh, did it flake. A little scrape with the fork, and those fish flakes were falling onto my dinner plate with asparagus and some basil gremolata. Mealthy, your skillet passes the test! The pan is available on Amazon if you’re looking for a quality, budget-friendly stainless steel skillet.
–> Check out my Pressure Cooking Guide for more cooking tips!
Seared Mahi-Mahi with Basil Gremolata
Perfectly flaky mahi-mahi with steamed asparagus and a summer basil gremolata.
- 2 pounds thin asparagus (trimmed)
- 1 pound mahi-mahi fillets (in 4 pieces)
- olive oil and melted butter (for brushing fish)
- sea salt and black pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (coarsely chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
STEAM the asparagus in a steamer basket over an inch of boiling water until crisp-tender, about 6 minutes.
MEANWHILE, heat a frying pan over medium to medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Brush the fish with butter and olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook in the hot pan until opaque throughout and flaking, 2-3 minutes per side.
STIR together the basil, garlic, lemon zest, and olive oil in a small bowl. Serve over the mahi-mahi with the asparagus. Drizzle with additional olive oil.