Delicate and quick tempered, fish can often be tricky to cook at home. However, with just five simple tools for cooking fish, your success rate will quickly climb and you’ll be serving tasty and as-perfect-as-possible fillets in no time.
We consulted with the experts and conducted our own research with cooking fish to compile a list of the five essential tools that you need to cook fish at home.
From the best type of pan to a fish spatula, with these tools you’ll be able to take on any delicious fish recipe that comes your way.
1. A Fish Spatula
This just might be one of the most important tools for cooking fish. As chef Katie Carey, a lead culinary instructor at New York’s Haven’s Kitchen says, “It’s thin, strong and flexible nature gives you the precision you need to handle fish in every cooking method.” It makes flipping the fish easy and without fear that the fillet will break part of the way through the process. (Read more on why we can’t live without a fish spatula.)
2. The Perfect Pan
On par with the fish spatula, the right pan falls into the “most important to buy” category. Carey says that having a thick-bottom stainless steel or cast iron pan for hot, even cooking is key. In her classes, many students are nervous about the skin sticking to the pan; for this you can opt for one with a non-stick surface (just be careful when using the metal fish spatula as to not damage the pan). If you go for a cast iron pan, make sure that you season it well before and after you use it for best results.
3. A Sharp Knife
Investing in a sharp knife will take you far in the kitchen and is a good tool to have no matter what you’re looking to make. In the case of fish, a sharp knife allows you to easily score the skin, which is key for a super crispy finish. (Don’t know how to score a fish? Bon Appetit shows you how.)
Pro tip: Always use more heat and oil than you think you need. Carey recommends getting the pan and oil very hot, then, the minute the skin hits the pan, give it a quick shake before letting it cook until it’s ready to flip.
4. A Grill Pan
Grilling fish for dinner is one of the joys of summer (or, depending on where you live, all year round!): It’s light, tasty and also really good for you. During the winter (or if you don’t have a grill), a grill pan used in your kitchen is a great way to replicate the texture and appearance of grilled fish. Cook’s Illustrated recommends cast iron grill pans for the best results.
5. A Steamer or Steamer Basket
Steaming gives you more leeway with fish and great technique to prevent overcooking. A steamer basket that is part of a pot set or a inexpensive bamboo basket will allow you to gently cook a fish along with a variety of vegetables for a quick and tasty meal. For most home kitchens, a 10- or 12-inch bamboo basket should be compatible with your existing kitchen equipment. Place it in a wok, skillet or other pot with slanted sides resting just above (but not in) a shallow layer of water and allow the steam to move through the basket.
Armed with these five tools and pro tips, you’re set for success cooking fish in your home kitchen. Next step: Recipe inspiration. Visit our Australis Kitchen for a collection of original recipes using a variety of flavors and techniques.