Prep School: How to Get Your Fish Ready to Cook


Fish are one of the most versatile and nutritious proteins available. And much to the surprise of many, ways to prep your fish for cooking is actually very easy—with a few simple steps.

These four simple lessons will help you prep your fish for cooking like a pro, so you can get quickly to the best part of seafood—eating it.

Lesson #1: How to Defrost Frozen Fish (Fillet or Whole)
The best way to defrost frozen fish is to let it thaw slowly in the refrigerator overnight. Be sure to place the fish on paper towels to help absorb excess fluids. If the frozen fish is in vacuum-packaging, either remove it entirely from the packaging before thawing or cut the packaging to allow oxygen in during the thawing process. 

If you need a quicker option for thawing your fish, fill a bowl with cold water and the frozen packaged fish in it so that it’s fully submerged (if it floats to the top, weigh it down). Don’t submerge a “naked” piece of fish underwater, as the flesh will become waterlogged. The defrost time will vary based on the size and weight of the fish. A good rule of thumb is to count on a six-ounce portion to be ready in about 15 minutes. Check periodically on its progress by pressing the middle to see if it has softened and thawed. Once thawed, cook it immediately.

Lesson #2: How to Clean a Whole Fish
Most grocery stores today sell whole fish that have already been cleaned and scaled. However, if you purchase a fish that hasn’t been, follow the four simple steps in this video to prep your fish for cooking.

Lesson #3: How to Fillet a Whole Fish
Filleting a whole fish is both easier and more rewarding than you may think. Therefore the only tools that you need are a solid surface, a sharp fillet knife (any sharp long knife will do), and a tutorial:

Lesson #4: How To Use The Scraps
Minimize waste by putting fish bones and fish skin to good use for tasty snacks and soups. Wash the skin, pat it dry, fry in an oiled skillet until crispy, and sprinkle with sea salt for a healthy snack.

Furthermore, rinse the head and bones, put them in a pot of boiling water with carrots, onions, celery and your favorite herbs for a hearty stock.

Read more in our Essential Guide to Sustainable Seafood series: